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More woes for Eskom as SAHRC probes complaints of air pollution at Medupi power station

20 April 2023

Pretoria - With the country continuing to experience stage 6 power cuts, Eskom is haunted by more woes.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is this week assessing a complaint of air pollution at the Medupi power station in Lephalale, LImpopo.

The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) hauled the power utility to the chapter nine institution, accusing the power plant management of negligence.

In a letter seen by the Pretoria News, addressed to the human rights watchdog, the party stated that there had been numerous complaints from residents of the Lephalale Local Municipality about “preventable air pollution” at the Medupi power station.

Speaking to the publication yesterday, FF+ provincial leader Marcelle Maritz said the biggest cause of the air pollution was how the ash from the burnt coal was disposed of.

She accused the power station of negligence because it opted to dump ash in a nearby field, which is blown by the wind, negatively affecting residents.

Some of the coal ash allegedly affects communities as far as Pretoria.

“The ash is no longer transported to the Matimba ash heap on a conveyor belt, but is simply dumped right next to the power station,” Maritz said.

“The slightest breeze blows the fine ash all over the dumping site, town and surrounding area.

“Eskom is clearly not following the same rehabilitation programme as it did with the Matimba Ash Disposal Facility.”

She said that this was not in line with reasonable environmental regulations.

“There is obviously some laxity on Eskom’s part when it comes to preventing air pollution, and although Eskom is struggling to keep the lights on, it must be compelled to do everything in its power to reduce air pollution,” Maritz said.

The party lodged a complaint with the SAHRC, asking them to urgently investigate the air pollution, and to compel Eskom to implement the necessary measures to reduce it.

“The Bill of Rights determines that each person has the right to live and work in an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. Pollution and ecological decline must be prevented as well,” Maritz said.

SAHRC Limpopo manager Victor Mavhidula could not confirm or deny if his office had received the letter from the party.

However, the Pretoria News is in possession of a responding letter, with reference number Lp/2324/0009, from Flora Dipela, who confirmed they had received the Freedom Front Plus’s letter.

Dipela wrote: “Receipt of your complaint is acknowledged.

“The SAHRC will asses the complaint to determine whether it falls within the mandate of the SAHRC ... or whether it should be dealt with by another organisation, institution, statutory body or institutions created by the Constitution or any other applicable legislation.”

Source: Pretoria News

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