Activists welcome Eskom report

2012-11-23 14:04
Environmental groups have welcomed National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report that revealed Eskom's environmental mismanagement. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Environmental groups have welcomed National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report that revealed Eskom's environmental mismanagement. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Environmental groups have welcomed National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report that revealed Eskom's environmental mismanagement.

The report, released by Environment Minister Edna Molewa on Thursday showed that the electricity utility was responsible for breaking more environmental laws than any other state corporation.

"This report adds to the body of evidence already uncovered by Greenpeace on Eskom's environmental recklessness. It is crucial that all organs of state are held responsible for their activities, and that they comply with all legislation. If Eskom is breaking the law, the utility should be prosecuted," Greenpeace Africa said.

The World Wide Fund for Nature also indicated that the report was "worrying" particularly because Eskom was a state entity.

"It would be worrying for a state enterprise not complying with government norms," Saliem Fakir WWF head of the Living Planet Unit told News24.

Water resources

Eskom has said that it complies with environmental legislation across its competencies, but the Environmental Management Inspectorate (known popularly as the Green Scorpions) acting chief director for enforcement, Frances Craigie said they were considering criminally charging Eskom.

"We have initiated some criminal investigations against them, but what the NPA said to us is that they cannot prosecute Eskom because... it's an organ of state, as defined in our National Environment Management Act [Nema]," said Craigie.

Greenpeace recently produced its The Water Hungry Coal: Burning South Africa's water to produce electricity report which slammed Eskom's use of water in coal production.

"Coal mining has unavoidable impacts on local water resources, both in terms of water consumption and pollution. For both underground and surface mining, groundwater is pumped out to dry the area being mined," the report said.

"Talk is cheap. This report clearly illustrates that Eskom is not committed to anything that is in the best interests of this country. It comes as no surprise that the utility continues to believe that it is above the law, and that transparency and accountability simply do not apply," said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Melita Steele.

The WWF said that a positive from the report was that it demonstrated transparency.


"From a governance point of view, we welcome that [the report] and we think that's a very positive thing that the Green Scorpions are doing. They're conducting proper oversight; they're putting out in the public domain some transparency - even of their own agencies," said Fakir.

Greenpeace called for Section 48 of Nema to be amended so that state organs are not immune from criminal liability.

Fakir expressed the hope that the utility would move to remedy the flaws in its environmental management programme.

"Hopefully Eskom will take this in a positive way and indicate how it's going to fix some of these issues."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    greenpeace  |  eskom  |  environment

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