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MPs to probe problems with air quality compliance, and impacts on health, tomorrow

12 September 2017 at 1:12 pm

AMSA's Vanderbijlpark operations, 17 March 2014 (Photo: CER)
AMSA's Vanderbijlpark operations, 17 March 2014 (Photo: CER)

On Wednesday, 13 September 2017, the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs is hosting a Colloquium on South Africa’s poor air quality at Parliament. The Colloquium focuses in particular in the challenges of achieving compliance with South Africa’s Air Quality Act.

Key features of the Colloquium include:

  • A presentation by the Department of Environmental Affairs on air quality improvement (or lack thereof) in the Vaal Triangle Priority Area, and compliance (or lack thereof) with the minimum emission standards for air pollution by big polluters.
  • A presentation by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) on capacity problems at local level. Air pollution is a function allocated to local government in the Constitution.
  • A presentation by environmental justice organisation groundWork on the health effects of air pollution in South Africa’s pollution priority areas (the Highveld, Vaal Triangle, and the Waterberg-Bojanala areas).
  • A presentation by Eskom on industry’s response to the minimum emission standards. Eskom and Sasol are the biggest polluters in South Africa, and in Feb 2015 were granted postponements from their compliance with air quality standards by the National Air Quality Officer in the Department of Environmental Affairs.
  • A presentation by the CSIR’s Dr Rebecca Garland on trends in air pollution in South Africa.
  • A presentation by CPUT Emeritus Prof Eugene Cairncross on how reliable our measurements of ambient air quality are.
  • A presentation by the Centre for Environmental Rights’ Pollution & Climate Change programme head, attorney Robyn Hugo, on prospects for holding polluters to account in priority areas, and urgent steps required to improve air quality in these areas.

Representatives from communities in some of South Africa’s most polluted areas – the Vaal Triangle, the Mpumalanga Highveld, the Waterberg in Limpopo and South Durban – will also be present.

The Colloquium will take place in Committee Room E249, Second Floor, National Assembly Building, starting at 08:15 to 16:00. Parliament has security procedures, so arrive early.

Download the programme for the Colloquium.

For information, contact Commitee Coordinator Tyhileka Madubela on 021 403 3713 or

For comment from CER, groundWork or any of the community representatives, contact Annette Gibbs on or 082 467 1295.

Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

Report a Violation

National Environmental Crimes & Incidents Hotline (24 hours): 0800 205 005

In addition, there are a number of national and provincial hotlines that may be useful.

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