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Parliament to consider postponements from air pollution standards

November 6, 2017 at 3:54 pm


A house in front of Eskom’s coal-fired Duvha Power Station on the outskirts of eMalahleni on the Mpumalanga Highveld. Image: Gallo Images
A house in front of Eskom’s coal-fired Duvha Power Station on the outskirts of eMalahleni on the Mpumalanga Highveld. Image: Gallo Images

On 7 and 8 November 2017, the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs is hosting a workshop on the implementation of the minimum emission standards (MES), which set the maximum limits on each pollutant that can be emitted in the course of various industrial processes.

The MES were set by the Minister of Environmental Affairs after an extensive multi-stakeholder process, also including big polluters Eskom and Sasol, over some five years, and were published in 2010 and amended in 2013. They are phased so that weaker “existing plant” MES should have been met by 1 April 2015, and stricter “new plant” MES from 1 April 2020. In 2013, however, both Eskom and Sasol applied for wide-ranging postponements of compliance with the MES, despite all of their operations being located in air quality Priority Areas (there are 12 Eskom power stations, and Sasol’s Secunda operations, in the Highveld Priority Area).

Although these applications faced significant opposition,[1] failed to comply with the requirements of the legislative framework, and the negative health impacts of granting Eskom’s[2] and Sasol’s[3] applications were shown to be devastating, in February 2015, the National Air Quality Officer in the Department of Environmental Affairs largely granted the postponements sought.

Some three years later, as civil society organisations and experts had predicted, air pollution in South Africa is high, with devastating impacts for human health and wellbeing.[4] This is especially the case in the Priority Areas. In its recent Air Quality Lekgotla, the DEA confirmed this dire state of affairs, indicating that “many South Africans may be breathing air that is harmful to their health and well-being especially in the priority areas”.[5

The Department of Environmental Affairs, the Centre for Environmental Rights, Sasol, Eskom, and groundWork will all make presentations at this workshop. Members of the public and media are welcome to attend. For a detailed agenda and venue details, click here.

[1] https://cer.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CER-submissions-on-Eskoms-postponement-applications_12-Feb-2014_final1.pdf; https://cer.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Final-CER-additional-submissions-on-Eskoms-postponement-application_16-Oct-2014.pdfhttp://lrc.org.za/lrcarchive/law-policy-reform/3149-submissions-minimum-emissions-standards-sasol-and-natref-exemptions-and-postponement

[2] https://cer.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Annexure-5_Health-impacts-of-Eskom-applications-2014-_final.pdf

[3] http://lrc.org.za/lrcarchive/law-policy-reform/3149-submissions-minimum-emissions-standards-sasol-and-natref-exemptions-and-postponement

[4] https://cer.org.za/news/air-pollution-from-coal-power-stations-causes-disease-and-kills-thousands-of-south-africans-every-year-says-uk-expert

[5] http://www.airqualitylekgotla.co.za/assets/2017_1.3-state-of-air-report-and-naqi.pdf

ENDS

The Life After Coal Campaign is a joint campaign made up of the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, and groundWork. It aims to: discourage investment in new coal-fired power stations and mines; accelerate the retirement of South Africa’s coal infrastructure; and to enable a just transition to renewable energy systems for the people.

For media queries, please contact Annette Gibbs on agibbs@cer.org.za or 082 467 1295.

Life After Coal Campaign organisations:

Centre for Environmental Rights: Annette Gibbs, Email: agibbs@cer.org.za, Mobile: 082 467 1295

groundWork: Bobby Peek, Email: bobby@groundwork.org.za, Mobile: 082 464 1383

Earthlife Africa: Makoma Lekalakala, Email: makoma@earthlife.org.za, Mobile: 082 682 9177

 

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.

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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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