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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.

SOME OF OUR LATEST NEWS

ENVIROSERVE RUNNING SCARED AND ETHEKWINI METRO IN SHAME-FACED RETREAT

Durban, South Africa, 23 September 2016 – The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Oceans and Coasts section has stopped, with immediate effect, all toxic waste leachate waste from being tankered by EnviroServ from its Shongweni landfill site to the Southern Waste Water Plant destined for the ocean.

In the future, permits will have to be sought by Ethekwini from the DEA – Oceans and Coasts – who have instigated research and analysis to take informed decisions on the standards and guidelines for waste and toxic emissions into the sea.

The DEA also confirmed that investigations are currently underway into alleged criminal activities of EnviroServ for submission to the National Prosecuting Authority.

Read the full media advisory here.

SA COAL COMMUNITIES MEET AT KZN COAL HOTSPOT

Mtubatuba & Kwambonambi, South Africa, Wednesday, 21 September 2016 – Communities from the different coal fields in South Africa will for the next three days meet at the heart of KwaZulu Natal’s coal struggle to exchange information and experiences and build solidarity.

Over a decade ago, the Somkhele community welcomed the Petmin coal mine in the hope of employment, which to this day remains a largely unfulfilled promise. Within the same area, the Fuleni community has for the last two years been resisting Ibutho Coal’s coal mine proposed for the border of the Hluhluwe/Mfolozi Game Reserve.

Communities from Johannesburg, the Highveld and the Waterberg will join their KwaZulu Natal compatriots from Newcastle and Xolobeni in visiting Somkhele and Fuleni. The Kwambonambi and Mtubatuba areas in northern KwaZulu Natal show the brutal evidence of how coal has created environmental injustices and increased poverty, and how the promise of development through mining has failed society.

Read the full media advisory here

BATTLE ESCALATES BETWEEN CIVIL SOCIETY AND ENVIROSERV AT SHONGWENI LANDFILL

Durban, South Africa, 15 September 2016 – In its latest communication with the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) regarding its problematic Shongweni landfill site – the source of 300 complaints in one week in August – EnviroServ has called statements by the environmental justice watchdog “sensational and factually incorrect”.

Residents of Hillcrest, Shongweni, Waterfall, KwaNdengezi and Dassenhoek have since December 2015 been complaining of malodour emanating from the Shongweni landfill site, allegedly causing “asthma, nausea, vomiting and bronchitis”. Together with the SDCEA and members of these communities, pressure has been placed both on the company and the Department of Environmental Affairs with little success – as the problem continues today.

Alarm was further sounded when it was announced that EnviroServ received authorisation from the department in an 11 point plan to dump approximately 27 million litres of toxic waste leachate into the ocean through the Southern Sewerage Works.

Read the full media advisory here.

CALL ON MINISTERS TO ENSURE ESKOM'S COMPLIANCE WITH OBLIGATIONS TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH

Cape Town, 6 September 2016 - 30 civil society organisations wrote an open letter to the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Energy, Environmental Affairs, and Health, expressing their alarm at recent statements and actions by Eskom management. This related particularly to Eskom’s statements on renewable energy and the implications thereof for climate justice, but also to Eskom’s failure to disclose records that provide evidence of steps taken to reduce air pollution that damage people’s health.

Read the full letter here.

MONEY HIDDEN IN TAX HAVENS COULD POWER SOUTH AFRICA AND HALF THE WORLD WITH 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY - Time for G20 to act.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa– 2 September 2016 – Globally every year up to $600 billion dollars of government tax revenue is lost through tax avoidance alone. In a new report, launched today, Friends of the Earth International calculates that government revenue lost to tax havens over a 15-year period could power Africa, Latin America and much of Asia with 100% renewable energy.

Read the full media advisory and download the report here.

ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANISATION TAKES MINISTER TO COURT OVER NEW COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT

Cape Town, 01 September 2016 - On Tuesday, 23 August 2016, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA), represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), instituted legal proceedings in the Pretoria High Court to set aside the environmental authorisation for the proposed 1200MW Thabametsi coal-fired power station near Lephalale in the Limpopo province.


ELA has asked the court to review and set aside the Department of Environmental Affairs’ decision to authorise the proposed power station, as well as the Minister of Environmental Affairs’ March 2016 decision to uphold that authorisation on appeal. 

Although the Minister upheld the authorisation on appeal, she also required Thabametsi to conduct a climate change impact assessment for the power station – a first for a proposed coal-fired power station in South Africa. That climate change impact assessment is currently underway.

ELA and CER have always maintained that the power station could not have been authorised in the absence of an assessment of the climate change impacts. 

Read the full media advisory here.

The eighth annual Jozi Book Fair kicks off tomorrow, 1 September 2016, at the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. This year, there is an exciting addition to the panel discussions which will be held at the weekend.

There will be four discussions focused on issues relating to environmental justice. They will be looking at how the EJ movement connects with concerns of coal and climate change, food and drought, waste, and nuclear energy.

Saturday’s programme features the following EJ panel:
How is coal’s future in South Africa going to be determined by the country’s climate justice movement?
Speakers: Makoma Lekalakala (Earthlife Africa Johannesburg); Samantha Hargreaves (WoMin); and Thomas Mnguni (groundWork)
Chair: Ferrial Adam (independent climate and energy justice researcher)

Sunday’s programme features the following EJ panels:
Who are the ‘invisible’ environmentalists saving our planet from mounds of waste?
Speakers: Vanessa Pillay (WIEGO), Simon Mbata and Mantwa Mokoena (SAWPA)
Chair: Jacklyn Cock
What are the alternatives to food production that will help combat climate change?
Speakers: Vanessa Black (Biowatch) and Jacklyn Cock (sociology and research professor, University of Witwatersrand)
Chair: Ferrial Adam
What does government nuclear deal with the Russian government mean for South Africa?
Speakers: Simon Ganta, Lindokuhle Qayiso and Mamodweu Tsoabi (Earthlife Africa Johannesburg)
Chair: Jacklyn Cock

PORT EXPANSION SQUASHED – VICTORY FOR COMMUNITIES AND ENVIRONMENT

Durban, South Africa, 25 August 2016 – The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) has recently won a protracted battle with Transnet after it was announced that the Durban dig-out port project would be delayed until 2032.

As a result of SDCEA’s organised resistance over many years, the organisation was in discussion with Transnet, of which the final outcome was this latest announcement. This is an important victory for SDCEA and the communities it represents, as it means retention of the community space as a residential zone, and no displacement of residents and workers such as the old Durban airport farmers.

The organisation, however, has come out stating that the fight for a community-driven development model in south Durban is far from over. 

Read the full media advisory here.

FAILURE TO ESTABLISH CLEAR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION REDUCTION OUTCOMES REFERRED TO PUBLIC PROTECTOR

Today a range of civil society organisations are taking their call for urgent clarification of greenhouse gas emissions objectives to the Public Protector. The complaint regards failure to implement provisions on mitigation in the National Climate Change Response White Paper, adopted by Cabinet in October 2011; most particularly the setting of "desired emission reduction outcomes" (DEROs) for 2030 and 2050, which was supposed to be completed within two years.

Read the full AIDC press release here.

Download the full text of the complaint to the Public Protector here.

CITY SILENT ON KELVIN POWER STATION FACTS: EARTHLIFE AFRICA TO DEMONSTRATE

Johannesburg, 24th of August 2016 - Earthlife Africa Johannesburg will protest on Thursday the 25th of August outside the Kelvin Power Station located in Kempton Park in the East of Johannesburg.

The demonstration will take place from 10: 00 am.

Supporters of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg are demanding answers from the City of Johannesburg about how much the power station actually costs Johannesburg residents in terms of electricity costs and in terms of pollution and potential health risks.

Read the full media advisory here.

GREENING GREY’S HOSPITAL

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 23 August 2016 – Grey’s Hospital is the latest health care facility to join the internationally recognised Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) initiative, which serves to create a global network of hospitals and health systems seeking to improve environmental performance, while sharing best practices and finding solutions to the common challenges they share. This Thursday, Grey’s Hospital will launch its “Greening Grey’s” awareness campaign among staff, patients and visitors.

“Grey’s Hospital became a member of the GGHH initiative in May because we wanted to make a difference to the lives we serve. It is our social responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint as a health care facility,” explains Dr Kandolo Benoit Bilenge, CEO of Grey’s Hospital.

Read the full media advisory here.

PIETERMARITZBURG CHOKING ON PERSISTANT AIR POLUTION

Fire at the Pietermaritzburg landfill site. Photo: Mark Wing

August 17, 2016 - Pietermaritzburg residents are coughing and choking on the persistent air pollution hanging over the city as doctors and hospitals battle with an influx of chest infections and an increase in reported asthma cases.

A series of recent blazes has added to the dense pollution leaving a noticeable cloud of smog looming over Pietermaritzburg.

Last week’s disastrous fire at the City’s landfill site resulted in tremendous amounts of noxious gasses being released into the atmosphere, which affected the operation of many schools and businesses in close proximity due to the health risks of breathing in the fumes.

Read the full Maritzburg Sun article here.

GROUNDWORK REFLECTS ON THE OCCASION OF ITS 17TH ANNIVERSARY

August 16, 2016 - groundWork recently celebrated its 17th anniversary. Writing in Oilwatch, groundWork's Executive Director, Bobby Peek notes that:

"It has been an exiting 17 years. Critically, we have made great strides in keeping the flames of environmental justice alive and burning strongly. But despite this we feel that the need for our work is ever more so critical now as there is an onslaught by the alignment of government and corporate power that seeks to undermine democracy for the furtherance of the elite wealth project"

Read Bobby's full comments and other interesting items in the June edition of the OILWATCH Africa newsletter here.

SASOL USA EXPANSION MET BY FIERCE OPPOSITION FROM SOUTH DURBAN ENVIRONMENTAL STALWART

Durban, South Africa, 15 August 2016 – As Sasol edges in closer to build the second largest gas-to-liquid (GTL) facility in the world in Mossville, Louisiana, environmental justice activist from the South Durban Basin, Desmond D'Sa today meets with the community which is set to be yet another of the fuel giant's displaced victims.

Sasol's Louisiana facility will turn natural gas into chemicals, diesel and other fuels. It will be the biggest project of its kind in the US, and the second-biggest GTL plant in the world, producing 96,000 b/d of diesel and other liquids.

Mossville is an historic community in southwest Louisiana that African American people began to settle in before the Civil War. They are determined to keep their land free of polluting industries.

Read the full media advisory here.

ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANISATIONS CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO TIGHTEN REQUIREMENTS FOR REPORTING ON EMISSIONS OF GREENHOUSE GASES

August 10, 2016 - Environmental justice organisations groundWork, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance and the Highveld Environmental Justice Network, with the support of the Centre for Environmental Rights, have called on government to tighten proposed requirements for reporting of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by industry.

The Centre, on behalf of the above organisations, submitted comments to the Department of Environmental Affairs in July 2016 on the Draft National Greenhouse Gas Reporting Regulations, 2016.

The draft Regulations are intended to regulate the reporting of GHG emissions by mainly industrial facilities for purposes of, among other things, establishing and maintaining a national GHG inventory.

Read the full media advisory here.

 

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