Eskom silo collapse shrouded in secrecy – DA

A constant and clear flow of information is needed from Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Eskom about the Majuba power station in Mpumalanga, says the DA.

“It is ridiculous that no information has been forthcoming from Minister Brown or Eskom on the nature of the problem at Majuba, and whether any further blackouts are likely,” said Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Michael today.

She said the situation was a national crisis which could “wreck” the economy, destroy jobs, and disrupt the matric examinations.

She would write to Brown and the parliamentary committee on public enterprises to ask for an oversight visit to the power station.

“The committee together with the minister must be allowed access to the plant to ask the questions the country wants answered.”

She said the country did not know what caused the collapse of the silo, how great the risk of further blackouts was, and how permanent the current solution to the problem was.

“Instead, the matter has been shrouded in secrecy.”

A coal storage silo, which stored over 1 ,000 tons of coal, collapsed on Saturday, affecting coal supplies to all six units at the power station.

Today, trade union Solidarity said the silo had been showing signs of stress since January and Eskom had done nothing to correct the problem.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said the silo was inspected last year.

Before the collapse, Majuba supplied 3600MW, roughly 10% of the country’s electricity capacity, Etzinger said on Sunday. Its capacity was reduced to 1800MW and then to 600MW. According to Eskom this had since been increased to 1200MW.

Eskom warned the collapse could cause rolling blackouts across the country.

Michael said it had been widely reported that Eskom used wet coal. This posed a serious danger as the wet coal caused a chemical reaction that placed extra pressure on a silo, she said.

“It is very plausible that the collapse of the silo, and the resulting national rolling blackout, was caused by negligence on the part of Eskom. This possibility needs to be thoroughly and transparently investigated.”

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