2012 NEWS AND PRESS RELEASES
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THERMOPOWER COURT CASE POSTPONED TO APRIL 2013 - NPA and Green Scorpions called to address delay in court case hearing
13 November 2012 – Today, the court case involving Thermopower Process Technology was once again postponed in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court. The case will be heard on 14 April 2013, this being the sixth postponement. The community of Olifantsfontein has been left wondering whether justice will ever be delivered and, together with groundWork, are looking to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Green Scorpions for answers.
groundWork, Earthlife Africa JHB and Greenpeace confront Eskom over bad choices; Demand new management
Johannesburg, 23 October, 2012 - Today, three campaigning organisations joined forces to put South Africa's energy utility, Eskom, under New Management. Activists confronted the utility to publicly highlight that Eskom has failed to deliver clean, affordable, accessible electricity to the people of this country, and demand a shift away from coal.
30 JANUARY 2013 VERDICT EXPECTED IN COURT CASE ON OIL GIANT SHELL'S NIGERIAN OIL POLLUTION
The Hague, The Netherlands, October 11, 2012 - For the first time in history, a Dutch court verdict is expected about the case of a European company, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, which appeared in court today to account for damage it caused abroad, says Friends of the Earth International.
NEW REPORT: "GENERATION IN JEOPARDY" FROM PESTICIDES - Emerging science points to pesticides as a key contributor to childhood diseases and disorders, requiring swift action from policymakers
San Francisco, California, 09 October 2012 – Learning disabilities, childhood cancer and asthma are on the rise in the United States. And a new report out today points to pesticides – with over 1 billion pounds applied on farms and homes annually – as a critical contributor to these health harms in children.
WASTE PICKER (50) DROWNS IN uMSUNDUZI RIVER
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 05 October 2012 – After heavy rains the previous night, waste picker Bongekile Hilda Ntshangase (50) drowned in the Msunduzi River on her way back to the New England Road landfill site after her and her husband had been to sell recyclable waste at the Central Waste depot on 23 September. Tomorrow, the Hlanganani MaAfrika Waste Picker Cooperative, members of the South African Waste Picker Association (SAWPA), groundWork and other waste pickers from the area, will attend her funeral.
EU to expand Phase-out of Mercury Measuring devices
Brussels, 03 October 2012 - Health Care Without Harm(HCWH), the European Environment Bureau(EEB) and the Zero Mercury Working Group today applauded the EU's decision to take off the market mercury sphygmomanometers and other measuring devices for industrial and professional use starting April 2014.
FOEI Chair Nnimmo Bassey to be awarded the 2012 RAFTO prize - Friends of the Earth International
BERGEN (NORWAY) / LAGOS (NIGERIA), September 27, 2012 – Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest federation of grassroots environmental organisations, is proud to announce that its chair, Nnimmo Bassey, who is also Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria , will be a recipient of the 2012 Rafto Prize for Human Rights.
Fracking: Down a dead-end one way road
22 September 2012 - Many studies have shown the dangers associated with fracking, and unconventional fracking is under ban or moratorium in more than a 140 places around the world. Over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and Vermont, France and Bulgaria have already stopped it.
SAWPA Members gather in KZN for Waste Pickers first national exchange - groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa, South African Waste Pickers Association
07 September 2012 - groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa, invites all media to attend the National Waste Pickers Exchange co-ordinated by groundWork and the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA).
Environmental injustice – Environmental nakba. International NGO observer mission to Palestine: "The occupation is an injustice" - Friends of the Earth International
29 August 2012 - Upon invitation of Friends of the Earth Palestine (Pengon), a Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) delegation is visiting the West Bank to observe the environmental injustices of the occupation and to gather testimonies and evidence from those affected.
Smokestack blog: Lonmin mine / Marikana massacre
24 August 2012 - groundWork's latest blog SOUTH AFRICA DOES NOT SUPPORT THE DEATH PENALTY, OR DOES IT? is out! Almost a week after the Marikana Massacre and in the midst of a week of mourning for those who were tragically killed at the Lonmin mine, the groundWork team sends their condolences to the families of the deceased and reflects on what this series of events means for South Africa.
Waste pickers vulnerable without government protection
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 03 August 2012 – The death of teen waste picker Nqobile Maphumulo at the New England Road landfill site on Wednesday is evidence that those already facing extreme poverty remain unprotected by government.
RIO+20: The future we wanted?
Durban, South Africa, 9 July 2012 – The Rio+20 conference on Sustainable Development ended with the formal adoption of a 50 page document entitled 'The future we want,' which gives a thorough overview of the varied and urgent challenges the global community faces.
You are cordially invited to a Rio+20 report back.
Date: 17 July
Time: 17h30 for 18h00 – 20h00
Venue: Mirriam Cele Room, Diakonia Centre in Diakonia Avenue, Durban
The latest news from Rio+20 and the People's Summit
19 June 2012 - Two decades ago, various representatives from 179 countries met in Rio de Janiero, Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or Earth Summit to create an international agreement that would build the foundations for a global partnership between those concerned with protecting the environment and creating sustainable development practices. Of significance was the international recognition that environmental protection was closely interlinked with socio-economic challenges and with the development of societies based on principles of equity and justice. This was founded on the concept of sustainable development that had been coined in 1987 by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development's (WCED) Brundtland Report, defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
Keep track of related news and follow what other Friends of the Earth member organisations are up to at the People's Summit here.
Durban harbour expansion to push farmers off land – communities to lose cheap produce source.
High levels of benzene in recent Eastwood river contamination
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 5 June 2012 – While the Baynespruit sewer pipeline has been repaired by the Msunduzi municipality, results from samples taken of the Eastwood River show high levels of benzene. Over two weeks ago, groundWork staff visited the site after a concerned member of public alerted the organisation to a white, oily liquid pouring out of the pipeline into the river.
World Bank agrees: Medupi poses social and environmental risk
Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, South Africa, 1 June 2012 – The World Bank Board has agreed that the development of the Medupi Power Station entails substantial environmental and social risks that have to be considered. This was in response to the Inspection Panel's 2010 investigation called for by local residents and supported by Earthlife Africa (Jhb) and groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa.
People empowered to prove reality of air pollution
Middelburg, South Africa, 25 May 2012 – Winter has arrived in the Highveld resulting in increased burning of fossil fuels by people for cooking and spatial heating as electricity is unaffordable. On 20 May, groundWork  trained local community members to use various air sampling devices to test the air quality within their homes during a time when air pollution is at its worst.
National Waste Management Strategy public hearings
Cape Town, 25 May 2012 - groundWork was invited to attend and present at the public hearings on the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) held in Cape Town from 29 May to 1 June 2012. Advocate Johnny De Lange chaired the meeting, where the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental affairs was briefed by various departments on the submissions of stakeholders that were made during public consultations on the National Waste Management Strategy.
Community workshop highlights air quality challenges in Vaal
Vaal, Gauteng province, South Africa – On the 24th April 2012, groundWork staff were involved with a community workshop held in the Sebokeng township in the Vaal. The Vaal Triangle was declared an Air-Shed Priority Area in April 2006 by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and continues to maintain this title to this day. It was labelled as such since the proposed ambient air quality standards were, and continue to be exceeded, resulting in negative impacts on the environment and communities that live in the area. Various community members in the Vaal have been engaging with issues of air quality for a number of years, and this workshop was used as platform to revisit past issues, new challenges and to assist in people's deeper understanding of the broader impacts of air pollution.
Community workshop exposes real impact of Medupi
Lephalale, Limpopo Province, South Africa – groundWork facilitated a workshop attended by over 80 people at the Mogol Club in Onverwacht on Saturday 21 April 2012 to assist community members to voice concerns related to the world's third largest coal-fired power plant, Medupi.
groundWork leads seminar on green health care risk waste management
Groundwork, in partnership with eThekwini Metro Municipality and the KwaZulu Natal Department of Health, began the first of many workshops concerned with the public health sector on Tuesday 10th April 2012 at Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban.
Vaal community indoor air quality monitoring
Vaal, Gauteng Province, South Africa, 7 March 2012 – Winter in the Vaal means average temperatures of about 8º Celsius. When it's that cold, you need to keep yourself warm but many communities in this area are not afforded the basic right to electricity, which forces them to rely on cheap fossil fuels to do so. On top of this, dirty industries situated near these communities pollute throughout the day and night, adding to the mix of noxious gases that people breathe in.
See groundWork's letter to the World Bank on its response to the Inspection Panel report into the Medupi project.
Community Planning Meeting hosted by groundWork
Towards the end of January, groundWork facilitated a Community Planning Meeting in Pietermaritzburg, where people from communities across South Africa gathered to discuss the past year and future plans. Those at the meeting included community members from the Highveld and Vaal fighting the mining industry and Eskom, representatives from Lichtenburg and New Brighton communities resisting cement kilns, representatives from the South Durban community against the health impacts of local industry, as well as waste pickers from across the country whose livelihoods stem from recyclables on land fill sites and the streets. Joining the discussion was a lawyer from the Center for Environmental Rights (CER) who has begun work with groundWork and the above-mentioned communities.
Polluting Brazilian Mining Giant Vale Exposed
DAVOS (SWITZERLAND) / PORTO ALEGRE (BRAZIL), 25 JANUARY 2012 - With more than 21,000 votes, the Brazilian mining giant Vale is highly likely to be crowned the 'world's worst corporation of the year' at the January 27 'Public Eye Awards' in Davos, Switzerland.
Civil Society and Community Organisations Challenge Draconian South African Weather Service Amendment Bill
Monday, 23rd January 2012 - Tomorrow, 24 January 2012, and 25 January 2012, Parliament will hold public hearings on the South African Weather Service Amendment Bill, 2011.
Many civil society and community organisations – groundWork, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), and the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA) - are particularly concerned about the offence the Amendment Bill proposes if an air pollution-related warning (which is not defined in the Bill) is issued without written permission from the South African Weather Service.
Taking time out from COP…
Friday, 20 January 2012 - Whilst climate change negotiators were caught up inside the COP17 in Durban, members from US-based civil society groups put on their hard-hats and paid a visit to the new 4 800 MW coal-fired Kusile power station and a coal-mine in the Highveld region of Gauteng. Environmental activists Karen Orenstein (Friends of the Earth) and Nicole Ghio (Sierra Club), journalist Kate Sheppard (MotherJones), and Tom Kruse (Rockefeller Brother Foundation) were taken on a tour by Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork where they discovered the reality of coal on the ground in South Africa.
Community people could face criminal charges for reporting on air pollution
Thursday, 12 January 2012 - Amendments to the South African Weather Services Act, 2001 ("the Act"), proposed by means of the South African Weather Service Amendment Bill, 2011 ("the Bill"), make it a criminal offence if community people or academics report on air pollution events in South Africa. See submission by groundWork, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance to the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs, prepared by the Centre for Environmental Rights.