Activists arrested at Eskom plant

2011-11-07 14:15

Johannesburg - Three Greenpeace activists were arrested at the Kusile power station's construction site in Mpumalanga on Monday after scaling a crane, Eskom said.

Six activists gained entry to the site at about 10:00 and climbed a crane, said spokesperson Hilary Joffe.

"We are most concerned about the safety of all on site and cannot condone illegal entry, nor the climbing of a crane."

Greenpeace spokesperson Fiona Musana said the three were charged with forced entry and taken to the Ogies police station. By noon, police were still trying to remove the remaining activists. They gained access through the back of the site.

A group of about 20 activists demonstrated at the gates of the new power station, in Emalahleni, early on Monday morning, with seven chaining themselves to the gate.

They were protesting against South Africa's reliance on the burning of coal to generate electricity, which emits greenhouse gases.

Greenpeace claims in a recent document that Kusile's external and hidden costs could be between R31.2bn and R60.6bn a year.

The Greenpeace-commissioned "True Cost of Coal" report was compiled by the University of Pretoria and released at the end of October.

It investigated the actual costs of Kusile’s entire coal chain, from climate change to water use, the impact on health and the damaging effects of coal mining.

‘We don't apologise for coal-fired stations’

"If Kusile was a country, it would be the fifth most polluting country in the world. It's not sustainable. The impact [of R60bn] on South Africans would be devastating," Musana said.

"Eskom is reluctant to speak with us... we want to hand over a memorandum with the report findings. We want a just transition from coal to renewable energy as it's a win-win situation in terms of job creation, the climate and energy."

Eskom earlier welcomed a protest over cleaner energy as long as it was peaceful and didn't disrupt operations.

"An important part though is that we don't apologise for building two large coal-fired stations. We are a developing country with a great need for economic growth and job creation," Joffe said.

"We need a secure and affordable supply of electricity in the short and long term, and coal is part of that future. We need to balance that supply with reducing emissions."

Kusile is expected to add 4 800 megawatts to the power grid on completion in 2017. The Medupi power station, being built in Lephalale, Limpopo, will add another 4 800 megawatts of coal-powered energy.

The stations would use advanced technology to burn less coal for the same amount of energy and achieve reduced emissions. Air quality would be improved by removing oxides of sulphur from exhaust gases released into the atmosphere.

  • George - 2011-11-07 14:27

    These Greenies must present their case in a court of law instead of committing illegal terrorist disruptive acts. Do they have more rights than us law abiding citizens? There are a lot of things we also do not like but do we go and block roads entrances etc. No it is plain illegal to tresspass.

      Grant - 2011-11-07 15:02

      Sometimes extreme measures are called for or else objections will just be ignored. I'm no 'tree hugger' and admit I don't know all the ins and outs of this dispute. I do, however like it that people who feel they have a percieved concern which could affect all of us are able to raise the matter.

      cecilhstephens - 2011-11-07 15:27

      Who is the financier and the instigators of these stupid people who do not have the capacity to understand the financial impact these unlawful and utter stupid actions they are doing have on us (once again the minority tax payer) who are trying to employ the previous disadvantaged and unemployed people so that they can take a salary home to feed there families, and then have to be stopped at the Power Station Gate, because some very stupid and ignorant persons sell his day to these sneeze balls who have alternative motives, it is a fact that no work no pay but why must my people suffer because of the actions of these persons who can do nothing immediate about the current situation, Or do they want all Eskom Power Stations to shut down immediately and lave South Africa in the DARK

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2011-11-07 14:56

    If they would only build nuclear power stations, but then the "no nukes" guys go crazy again.

      Graham - 2011-11-07 15:36

      Go Nuclear!

  • aarchaic - 2011-11-07 15:03

    As I said on the previous article these people should stare some sort of economic terrorism charges in the face. I know they fight for a cause but this is not the way to go! the financial impact today had is bigger than any of us can really comprehend. Build these stations stablized the grid so all other stations dont have to run over designed capacities in so reducing toxins from burning less coal!

  • Jonathon - 2011-11-07 15:29

    I'm all for the environment and agree that they need to be aware of it but I think we've had enough power cuts to say that these guys should piss off and rather make a statement about poaching rhino's or something. Lets get these new power stations up!!!

  • Linda - 2011-11-07 16:14

    I have done some work for both power stations and they are obviously brand new using brand new better technology than the existing old coal power stations. For the amount of power they will provide, they emit far less pollutants than the existing coal fired stations. I understand they are burning fossil fuels but do you have any idea how much more expensive nuclear or renewable source energy power stations are compared to the construction of these two coal fired ones? South Africa needs the power NOW. And Eskom is working on more environmentally friendly power solutions for the future.

      Jonathon - 2011-11-07 23:41

      Agreed. If we don't pull fingure with what we have now we'll have huge problems in the future.

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