NGOs challenge Eskom’s latest application to escape compliance with air pollution laws
7 FEBRUARY 2020 - Eskom has for a 5th time applied to escape compliance with South Africa’s air pollution laws.
The Life After Coal campaign, consisting of groundWork, Earthlife Africa and the Centre for Environmental Rights, has filed comprehensive submissions opposing Eskom’s latest application to delay or completely avoid meeting the April 2020 pollution limits for its coal power plants.
Despite being the biggest polluter in South Africa and already receiving widespread postponements of compliance deadlines, Eskom is still attempting to delay or completely avoid meeting the April 2020 pollution limits in the Minimum Emission Standards (MES) for 14 of its 15 dirty and deadly coal-fired power stations. Eskom’s various applications across its fleet of power stations blatantly undermine the MES, which exist to protect people’s health and wellbeing, social and economic development, and the environment.
The Background Information Document for Eskom’s latest application for weaker pollution limits – at Medupi and Matimba power stations – was provided for comment after the application deadline of 31 March 2019 (by this date, complete applications – including air pollution impact assessments and full and completed public participation processes – were required to be submitted to the National Air Quality Officer).
The further documents for Medupi and Matimba are still awaited, as are additional applications for Eskom’s Grootvlei, Acacia, and Port Rex facilities.
Medupi and Matimba – like all of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations – are located in an air quality priority area. In the Waterberg-Bojanala Priority Area, air pollution is higher than permitted by South Africa’s weak air quality standards, resulting in serious impacts on the health and well-being of local residents. Eskom’s unlawful application to effectively exempt Medupi and Matimba from compliance with the MES through to the closure of these stations is unconstitutional and should be summarily rejected by the National Air Quality Officer.