Greenpeace: 2 200 died due to Eskom's plants

2014-02-27 11:57

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Cape Town - Greenpeace has issued a report estimating the health damages and economic costs around Eskom’s power plants, stating that 2 200 people per year died prematurely as a result of exposure to particulate matter.

According to Greenpeace Eskom is currently in a bid to postpone its responsibility to adhere to the requirements of the National Air Quality Act of 2015 that sets minimum emission standards for power plants

Lauri Myllyvirta, a coal and air pollution specialist wrote the study criticising Eskom. According to Myllyvirta the state-owned utility company believes that abiding by the law would cost Eskom too much.

According to Eskom the company is in the process of requesting a five year postponement to the Minimum Emission Standards.

Myllyvirta’s study particularly looks at the consequences of Eskom’s failure to address the health issues and financial cost using tools implementable in GIS software.

Global health risk

The study concluded that due to Eskoms coal fired power plants around South Africa 2 200 people per year died prematurely as a result of exposure to particulate matter. The economic cost to the society is estimated at $30bn.

Eskom argues though that the brunt of poor air quality in South Africa, and the associated health risks, is borne by people who burn coal and wood in their homes for cooking and heating.

Moreover Eskom disputes Greenpeace’s health risk allegations.

The study states that Eskom plans to instead implement a policy called the emission reduction plan. Myllyvirta argues though that this proposed plan will dramatically increase air pollution especially when compared to the standards placed by the Minimum Emission Standards and the requirements they impose.

“The non-compliance of Eskom’s coal fired power plants with the Minimum Emission Standards implied by the company’s so called emission reduction plan would allow Eskom to emit as estimated 28 000 000 tones of excess SO2 over the remaining life of the power plants”, Myllyvirta states.

Eskom released a report in November 2013 stating that ambient air quality monitoring shows that Eskom’s activities do not cause non-compliance with ambient air quality standards for oxides and particulate matter. Eskom reiterates that its activities make only a small concentration to total ambient levels

But Myllyvirta’s study argues that Eskom’s non-compliance and their proposed reduction plan would make the emissions standards redundant as they were predominantly created to regulate South Africa's thermal power stations.

Eskom’s energy plants contribute heavily to ambient particulate matter which according to Myllyvirta is a global health risk. Eskom’s plants in addition increase air pollution by increasing mercury toxins that influence the cognitive development of children.

Read more on:    greenpeace  |  eskom  |  cape town  |  electricity  |  pollution

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