Eskom’s Kendal Causing Excess Pollution Deaths, Studies Show

Eskom’s Kendal Causing Excess Pollution Deaths, Studies Show

(Bloomberg) --

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s Kendal power plant, where pollution abatement equipment was damaged in a 2018 strike, allegedly caused as many as 274 excess deaths between the start of 2018 and October last year, studies show.

The coal-fired plant’s emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, are often a multiple of those recommended by the World Health Organisation, the Cape Town-based Centre for Environmental Rights said in a statement, citing studies it commissioned. Power-plant pollution has been tied to complaints ranging from respiratory diseases to heart attacks and strokes.

The studies, by Andy Gray of San Rafael, California-based Gray Sky Solutions and Ranajit Sahu, an air-quality consultant from California, come as pressure mounts on state-owned Eskom to curb emissions from the coal-power plants it runs that supply most of South Africa’s power.

Environmental rights groups have sued the government to enforce its own rules against Eskom and petrochemicals company Sasol Ltd. because they say the air pollution violates constitutional rights.

“Eskom is not above the law,” Thomas Mnguni, a campaigner at Groundwork, an environmental organization that works with the CER, said in a statement. Holding Eskom to account for their rampant pollution is a matter of life and death for those of us living on the Highveld.”

The Highveld refers to the country’s inland plateau and includes the region east of Johannesburg where most of South Africa’s power plants are located.

Eskom was served with a compliance notice earlier this year by South Africa’s environment department, demanding it curb emissions from the 4,116 megawatt Kendal plant or face its partial closure.

Of the plant’s six generating units two are operating within emissions limits, one is being repaired and is offline and three are exceeding the limits, Eskom said in a response to queries. The electrostatic precipitators, which use an electric charge to take particles out of the emissions, and dust handling plants were damaged during the strike, it said.

Full repairs of the units “can only be executed one after the other. Some of the work has already been executed,” Eskom said. While “Eskom is committed to addressing the emissions issues at Kendal power station” shutting down units exceeding emission limits would compromise the company’s ability to meet national power demand, the utility said.

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