Eskom’s latest plan to get three units at Kusile coal power station in Mpumalanga back into operation would lead to unabated and increased sulphur dioxide (SO2) pollution at a deadly health cost to local communities.
The Life After Coal campaign (LAC), a joint campaign by Earthlife Africa (ELA), groundWork (gW), and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) has made legal submissions on Eskom’s application for postponement of compliance with applicable Minimum Emissions Standards for SO2. Eskom wants to bypass pollution control measures by building a temporary stack over the next 7-8 months, while it repairs the permanent stack damaged in a structural failure in October 2022.
In the 2022 judgment of the “Deadly Air case”, the Pretoria High Court confirmed that failure to adequately control air pollution in the Highveld Priority Area (“HPA”) is an infringement of the Constitutional right to an environment not harmful to health or wellbeing.
“Against a backdrop of raging debate, contradiction and deeply damaging policy uncertainty around the future of coal-fired electricity, we are faced with this practical and tragic example of how the system continues to fail, and literally sacrifices people living in the Mpumalanga Highveld and elsewhere” Makoma Lekalakala , Director at Earthlife Africa.
“For how much longer are we going to invest in an electricity system that is unreliable, expensive, deadly, when cheaper and safer alternatives are available? Eskom should use this opportunity to give serious consideration to accelerate the coal phase-out and the rollout of Renewable Energy” Bobby Peek is Director at groundWork.
“The limitation of rights arising from bypassing the pollution abatement is particularly egregious considering the judgement in the Deadly Air case handed down a mere year ago. The judgment reaffirmed the immediately realisable nature of Section 24 and that failure to adequately control air pollution in the Highveld Priority Area (“HPA”) is an infringement of that right” Ntombi Maphosa, Attorney at the CER Pollution and Climate Change Programme.
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