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groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste. groundWork is the South African member of Health Care Without Harm and Friends of the Earth International.


September Newsletter - Africans Resisting

Cover of September 2017 newsletter

12 October 2017 - The September 2017 edition of the groundWork newsletter is available from today.

groundWork Director, Bobby Peek, remarks in the introduction to the issue that "It was not difficult to get to the focus of "Africans Resisting", considering that this period covered the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre.

Nothing has changed for the people of the area or the workers. Poverty still prevails. And at one level the people of the area are taking on the struggle and the pain for all South Africans living in poverty. They have chosen not to accept government hand-outs in the form of housing. For the people of the area, poverty is not about housing, it is about changing the system, and piecemeal efforts are not going to be accepted. Changing the conditions for people on the ground means delivering on the political promises of 1994, delivering on the corporate promises that mining delivers for people and, above all else, it is about accountability for those who claim to be our leaders".

You can download the September 2017 newsletter here.

Operation Phakisa - a Disaster in the making

05 October 2017 - President Zuma today will no doubt sing the praises of government’s ‘Operation Phakisa’, an initiative designed to fast-track the extraction of oil and gas from our coastal waters.  It is claimed that this is a unique initiative to address issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality as highlighted in the National Development Plan (NDP).  This extraction has been labelled as ‘development’.  It is further argued that Operation Phakisa is an innovative and pioneering approach to translate detailed plans into concrete results through dedicated delivery and collaboration.  But at the outset it must be asked: delivery for whom and collaboration with whom?

Read the full opinion piece by groundWork Director, Bobby Peek, here.

Proposed coal plant developer withdraws opposition to legal challenge

04 October 2017 - Kuyasa Mining (Pty) Ltd and KiPower (Pty) Ltd have withdrawn their opposition to the court challenge launched by groundWork – with the assistance of the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) – of the proposed KiPower coal-fired power station, to be based near Delmas, Mpumalanga.

groundWork launched court proceedings in August 2017 against KiPower’s environmental authorisation and the Minister of Environmental Affairs’ decision to allow the power station to go ahead without a climate change impact assessment.  The Minister could have averted the court proceedings if she had responded to letters from the CER sent before the litigation was launched.

KiPower and Kuyasa’s attorneys have now indicated that they plan to apply afresh for a new environmental authorisation for the power station, and that they will not be opposing the application to have KiPower’s existing environmental authorisation set aside.

It is not yet known whether the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Minister intend to oppose the litigation.  KiPower’s existing environmental authorisation remains in place until set aside. It is also not clear whether KiPower’s new environmental impact assessment (EIA) application will include a climate change impact assessment and will address the numerous deficiencies and water pollution concerns that arose from the original EIA.

Read the full media release here.

broken promises

Broken Promises: The failure of South Africa's priority areas for air pollution - time for action

02 October 2017 - Today, we launched a new report entitled Broken Promises: the Failure of the Highveld Priority Area, exposing the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)’s failing air pollution governance system – with a particular focus on the Mpumalanga Highveld. The report sets out urgent steps that should be taken by various authorities to improve the severe air pollution in several parts of South Africa, particularly in those parts which are supposed to be the priority areas aimed at reducing air pollution.

In November 2007, the Minister of Environmental Affairs declared 31,000 km2 of the heavily-polluted Mpumalanga Highveld, then home to about 3.6 million people, a “priority area” in terms of the Air Quality Act. The Highveld Priority Area (HPA) was declared because, as the DEA said at the time, “people living and working in these areas do not enjoy air quality that is not harmful to their health and well-being”, as required by section 24 of the Constitution.

Our conclusions are that, a decade after the HPA’s declaration, air quality in the HPA remains poor and out of compliance with health-based national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) (even though these are significantly weaker than the guidelines of the World Health Organisation).

Read the full media release here.

Proposed new coal plants would make already dangerous levels of water pollution in Olifants River Catchment even more toxic

18 September 2017 - A 2014 epidemiological study conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR) and other scientific institutions reveals that communities relying on the Lower Olifants River are being exposed to alarming and unacceptable levels of dangerous contamination in the Olifants River. Despite this, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) continues to authorise developments that will have further devastating impacts on the water quality of the Olifants River and connected water resources, placing the health and wellbeing of communities and ecosystems relying on this river at enormous risk.

Read the full media release here.

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

12 September 2017 - 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.

Read more here.

Air pollution from coal power stations causes disease and kills thousands of South Africans every year, says UK expert

12 September 2017 - Air pollution from coal-fired power stations kills more than 2,200 South Africans every year, and causes thousands of cases of bronchitis and asthma in adults and children annually. This costs the country more than R30 billion annually, through hospital admissions and lost working days.

Read the full news item here.

Download the report Health Impacts of Coal fired Power Plants in South Africa here.

Another two proposed coal power plants taken to court for failing to consider climate impacts

11 September 2017 - Environmental justice organisation groundWork, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, has instituted two new court applications in the Pretoria High Court against the Minister of Environmental Affairs and others, challenging the decisions of the Minister and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to authorise proposed independent power producer (IPP) KiPower and Khanyisa coal-fired power stations, without a full assessment of the plants’ climate change impacts.

Read the full media release here.

The True Effect of Mining

03 September 2017 - Mining is not part of a development plan.  It is a process that extracts minerals from the earth and enriches a few and impoverishes the majority, so the claim that mining is necessary for social and economic development, is a political promise that will not be delivered.

Let’s take a closer look at what mining provides a society.  The World Bank’s own research report, “Where is the Wealth of the Nations?” presents empirical evidence that mining reduces a country’s savings, i.e., it makes countries poorer rather than wealthier.

Read the short opinion piece by groundWork's Director, Bobby Peek, here.


For more news and our news archives click here, or here to access our collection of media items.