2013 NEWS AND PRESS RELEASES
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ESKOM’S EGO TRIP THREATENS SOUTH AFRICA’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
Johannesburg, South Africa, 17 December 2013 – In spite of 12.2 billion Rand in profits in six months, Eskom has applied for non-compliance of air emission standards for all but one of its power stations on the basis of financial constraints, despite the major impacts on people’s health. Despite Eskom’s commitment to safety, its operations have consistently failed to plan for and implement industry-standard pollution prevention equipment, constantly harming communities close to its coal-fired power stations. Being one of South Africa’s major emitters of CO2, Eskom is also a major contributor to global climate change.
ESKOM RISKS SOUTH AFRICANS’ HEALTH BY NEGLECTING TO INVEST IN REDUCING POLLUTION
Johannesburg, South Africa, 05 December 2013 – Eskom is risking the health of South Africans through its ongoing failure to invest in industry-standard pollution prevention equipment for its power stations. Not only is Eskom trying to avoid complying with negotiated and legislated air quality standards, but it now plans to request changes to licence conditions for many of its most polluting power stations so as to emit more pollution. These steps would violate South Africans’ constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health.
ESKOM UP TO WIN WORST CORPORATION OF 2013 - Eskom shortlisted in international Public Eye Awards, parallel to World Economic Forum.
Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 November 2013 – Eskom, which supplies 90% of South Africa’s electricity needs through its 18 coal-fired power stations, is in the running to win the international award for this year’s worst corporation in the annual Public Eye Awards, taking place parallel to the World Economic Forum. In a bid to maneuver its way out of its social and environmental responsibilities, cut costs and fuel its coal addiction, Eskom has applied for two-thirds of its coal-fired power stations to be exempt from and/or postpone complying with the law on air pollution standards (minimum emission standards) put in place to protect people’s health.
WASTE INCINERATION; WASTING JOBS: KILLING JOBS IN SOUTH AFRICA WITH DIRTY ENERGY
Pretoria, South Africa, 07 November 2013 – Despite South Africa’s waste management legislation stipulating that incineration be the last resort in waste disposal, approximately 300 waste pickers on the Chloorkop landfill in Kempton Park are set to lose their jobs as a result of Enviroserve’s proposed waste-to-energy incinerator. Tomorrow, in a call to the Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs to place a complete ban on incineration in South Africa, over 500 waste pickers will march to and hand over a memorandum to the DEA at Princess Park, Pretoria.
SA CIVIL SOCIETY TO HOLD CLIMATE CAMP PARALLEL TO UN CLIMATE NEGOTIATIONS - People’s Climate Camp to resist Durban port developments, in relation to dirty energy and climate change
Durban, South Africa, 06 November 2013 – The proposed billion rand Durban port development, and in particular the dug-out port, is set to displace small, local farmers and their workers, affect the broader south Durban community socio-economic and environmentally, and to severely contribute to climate change. In response to this and the broad scale pollution across the country, community groups from pollution hotspots in KwaZulu Natal, the Vaal Triangle and the Highveld are holding a People’s Climate Camp in Bluff, south Durban from 14th to 17th November.
LEAD POISONING POSES MAJOR RISK TO CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT - International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action exposes risk of lead
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 21 October 2013 – Today marks the start of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action, aimed at addressing the lack of awareness around the harmful effects of lead poisoning, related particularly to lead in paint, and the severe impacts lead poisoning has on childhood development. Whilst lead poisoning is entirely preventable, exposure to the heavy metal is estimated to account for 0.6% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions such as South Africa. Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600 000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year.
FRACKING IN KZN TO JEAPORDISE PEOPLE’S WATER AND HEALTH
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 17 October 2013 – This Saturday marks the global day of action against fracking known as the Global Frackdown, where people across the world will call on their governments for a future powered by clean and healthy renewable energy, instead of dirty fossil fuel sourced energy, one of which is fracking. In KwaZulu Natal, the fracking belt covers 88 000 km2 lying against the Drakensburg Mountain Range and Lesotho, and extending into the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, one of Southern Africa’s World Heritage Sites.
ESKOM CAUGHT IN CROSSHAIRS OF ITS OWN INACTION TO PROTECT ENVIRONMENT
Johannesburg, South Africa, 20 September 2013 – Eskom’s response, in a statement released on Wednesday, to groundWork and Earthlife Africa Jhb’s concerns on the company’s application for exemption from Minimum Emission Standards (MES) and postponement of the MES timeframes for a number of their power stations, including Medupi, is best described as contradictory and confused.
COMMUNITY YET TO SEE JUSTICE DELIVERED AGAINST HAZARDOUS WASTE INCINERATION COMPANY THERMOPOWER
Olifantsfontein, Gauteng, 17 September 2013 – Just days after hazardous waste incineration company A-Thermal Retort Technologies (formerly known as Thermopower Process Technologies) burnt to the ground, the company’s directors, allegedly linked to corrupt tenders and senior members of the ANC, have for the seventh time manoeuvred around the justice system. It has been almost four years since the National Prosecuting Authority and the Green Scorpions investigated the company for worker safety and community environmental health issues contraventions.
THE WORLD BANK ABANDONS THE PEOPLE OF THE WATERBERG DISTRICT
Johannesburg, South Africa, 15 September 2013 – In 2010, The World Bank lent Eskom 3.75 billion dollars to build the Medupi power station. Some of the material conditions under which the loan was granted were that Medupi would install Flu-gas Desulfurization (FGD) and that Eskom would meet South Africa's air quality emissions standards and legislation. Both conditions were touted as being some of the advantages of Medupi: it would be a “cleaner”, supercritical coal-fired power station different from Eskom's dirty plants in the Witbank region and a central condition to The World Bank’s loan to Eskom.
HAZARDOUS WASTE FACILITY UNDER INVESTIGATION BURNS DOWN
Olifantsfontein, South Africa, 13 September 2013 – Late last night, toxic and hazardous waste disposal and incineration company A-Thermal Retort Technologies (commonly known as Thermopower Process Technology), burnt to the ground. This comes almost five years after the company was charged and continues to be under investigation by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Department of Environmental Affair’s (DEA) environmental management inspectorate, the Green Scorpions, for numerous contraventions relating to worker safety and community environmental health issues .
VICTORY FOR VAAL COMMUNITY: COURT ORDERS AMSA TO HAND OVER DOCUMENTS
Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, 10 September 2013 – After being at loggerheads for many years with Africa’s largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal South Africa (Amsa), the Vaal community is one step closer to realising their right to a cleaner environment. Today, judgement was handed down by the South Gauteng High Court mandating records of Amsa’s Environmental Master Plan and Vaal Disposal Site to be handed over to the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA).
CARBON TAX POLICY DOESN’T CUT IT
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 05 August 2013 – The impacts of climate change are coming on harder and faster than anyone anticipated. This week, fires are burning across Siberia as the Arctic region experiences an unprecedented heat wave. This signals the threat of runaway climate change as huge quantities of carbon dioxide and methane are frozen in by northern permafrost and are released as it melts. It is a sign of the developing catastrophe that will leave much of this country uninhabitable by mid-century.
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH GROUPS CALL ON SHELL TO CLEAN-UP NIGERIA OIL SPILLS
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa / Amsterdam, The Netherlands / Lagos, Nigeria, 05 August 2013 – Exactly two years after a United Nations report exposed oil giant Shell's systematic contamination of Ogoniland in Nigeria, Friends of the Earth groups from around the world are today launching an online petition targeting Shell.
groundWork, South African member of Friends of the Earth, is urging Shell to accelerate the clean-up of the oil-rich and heavily polluted Niger Delta in Nigeria.
DON'T FRACK WITH THE KAROO
Johannesburg, South Africa, 10 May 2013 – For centuries Africa has been exploited by private corporations for its abundant source of raw materials and as such, has been locked into a system of dirty fossil-fuel extraction.
On Monday 13th May, groundWork/Oilwatch South Africa will host delegates from Oilwatch Africa and South African civil society in a conference titled “Working in Solidarity - Sharing of peoples’ struggles and ideas for a new paradigm on energy”.
Durban, South Africa, 06 May 2013 – This Wednesday, groundWork, together with the University of KwaZulu Natal, will be holding a roundtable to discuss the impacts on environmental and human health from fossil fuel based energy processes.
Unpacking climate change
Reading about climate change can be confusing because there is a lot of jargon and it is not always clear what people are saying.
David Hallowes has written a short guide to let people know what is happening and to make the debate more accessible.
groundWork Climate and Health roundtables
groundWork is holding a series of Climate and Health roundtables around the country.
brics-from-below! summit: Watching and challenging power!
Durban, South Africa, 20 March 2013 – As the five heads of states of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) meet on African soil in Durban next week for the developing nations' summit, civil society in Durban will be holding its own summit of a very different nature.
IS 8% REALLY ANY BETTER?
Why South African's should not be thanking Nersa!
Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, 28 February 2013 – Despite the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) today announcing that it would halve Eskom's proposed tariff hike application for the third round of the Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD3) to 8%, it is clear that this is no fair compromise.
GENDER IMPACT WATCH AT MEDUPI - Community to pressure World Bank to admit gender impacts of Medupi
Lephalale, Limpopo, 26 February 2013 – Eskom's World Bank-funded Medupi Power Station has the potential to seriously disrupt the social fabric, and in particular the lives of women, in Lephalale and surrounds. Women are disproportionately affected by International Financial Institution (IFI) investments in the extractive industry, often being the first to lose their livelihoods and to bear the burden of negative environmental and health impacts.
EARTHLIFE, GROUNDWORK, GREENPEACE QUIT STAKEHOLDER FORUM OVER ESKOM ESPIONAGE
Johannesburg, Wednesday 13 February 2013 – Earthlife, groundWork and Greenpeace have suspended their participation in Eskom's NGO forum following reports that Eskom contracted Swartberg Intelligence Support Services to spy on the organizations. The organizations have received documents exposing correspondence between South Africa's utility monopoly and 'Swartberg Intelligence Services'.
The Dirty Energy Week Report (2011): Challenging climate gangsters
At the end of 2011, the city of Durban was host to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th annual Conference of the Parties (CoP17), where governments, NGOs and business met to discuss new commitments in reducing carbon emissions globally and mitigating the effects of climate change. Out of this conference, came the 'Durban Platform', a weak deal set to keep people locked into a future of unsustainable and non-renewable energy use, with the consequential increase in the negative effects of climate change.
For a week before this conference, however, groundWork together with various NGOs, civil society organisations and people's movements from across the globe, met to discuss our current dirty, fossil-fuel based energy system, the experiences of communities living next to extractive industries, as well to plot the way forward towards a new, people-driven energy system based on clean alternatives.
New fact sheet: Why the South African government should say NO to fracking!
In September last year, the South African cabinet lifted the moratorium – imposed over a year earlier – on hydraulic fracturing or fracking for shale gas in the Karoo. Despite the serious environmental and social impacts of fracking that have been highlighted by communities and civil society groups, the research commissioned by the Department of Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu suggests that the benefits of job creation, energy security and the boost to the country's economy outweigh these negative impacts.
This new fact sheet not only explains what fracking exactly is and the main companies that have been granted permits to explore for gas in Karoo and beyond, but discusses critically the resulting detrimental effects and guides communities and civil society in South Africa on ways to begin resisting this extraction of natural gas.
UN Global Mercury Treaty: Almost a step in the right direction - No longer a business-as-usual approach but essentially another paper tiger
Pietermaritzburg, 22 January 2013 – The world now has the text for a legally binding mercury treaty, which was decided upon by more than 140 countries this past weekend in Geneva at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC5) to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury.
Energy intensive users still to profit despite Eskom's tariff hikes
Pietermaritzburg, 17 January 2013 – Large energy intensive users such as smelters are still making profits through Eskom's energy buy-back schemes, despite them resisting energy price increases that will impact on the poor. Using the public's money to prop up the profits of large energy users is an injustice that must be stopped.
New report: Dirtier than coal?
A new report from Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds highlights that the government has chosen to exclude a number of key sources of emissions from biomass energy in their carbon calculations, with the findings based on fundamentally flawed data relating to greenhouse gas implications. Failure to fix the error and rework biomass policies will come at considerable cost to the public, and have a damaging impact our climate.
Read the report here.
Global mercury treaty would make Europe's children brainier - Health and Environment Alliance
Brussels, 7 January 2013 – Preventing environmental exposure to mercury could save the European Union €8-9 billion per year by protecting children's brain development, according to a paper published in Environmental Health today.
Worst corporation of 2012 exposed parallel to World Economic Forum:
Lonmin shortlisted in international Public Eye Awards
(groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa & The Bench Marks Foundation)
Pietermaritzburg & Johannesburg, South Africa, 04 January 2012 – The nexus between corporate power and the political elite, and what this means for people and the environment is being exposed in the run up to the World Economic Forum which will take place in Davos, Switzerland between 23 to 27 January 2013.
New World Health Organisation report: Endocrine disrupters and child health
This document provides a short summary of the current knowledge of the effects of endocrine disrupters on child health. The main focus is on congenital disorders, cryptorchidism and hypospadias, which have an endocrine connection, on thyroid hormone-related problems, and on puberty. There is ample evidence of endocrine disruption in wildlife, and the mechanisms of action of endocrine disrupters have been elucidated in experimental animals, but there is limited knowledge of the association of human disorders with exposure to endocrine disrupters. Accumulating data suggest that many adult diseases have fetal origins, but the causes have remained unexplained. Improving fetal and child health will influence the whole life of an individual and improve the wellbeing of our society.