Greenpeace says SA is no 2 sulfur dioxide hotspot

Two areas in the country are among the top-10 global emitters of the sharp-smelling gas.
The level of sulfur dioxide emissions in the Kriel area in Mpumalanga only lags the Norilsk Nickel metal complex in the Russian town of Norilsk. Picture: Bloomberg

The area around coal-fired plants owned by South Africa’s state power utility Eskom ranks as the world’s second-largest hotspot of sulfur dioxide emissions, according to Greenpeace.

Read: South Africa sued for Eskom, Sasol air pollution in coal belt

The level of sulfur dioxide emissions in the Kriel area in Mpumalanga province only lags the Norilsk Nickel metal complex in the Russian town of Norilsk, the environmental group said in a statement, citing 2018 data from NASA satellites. The province is home to most of Eskom’s 15 coal-fired power plants as well as coal-to-fuel plants owned by Sasol, South Africa’s biggest company by revenue.

South Africa’s government is under growing pressure to act against air pollution caused by the two companies as it’s being sued by environmental activists over the violation of the constitutional right to clean air. A plan to double the amount of sulfur dioxide that coal-fired power plants and boilers can emit was put on hold in May after a legal challenge was filed against the environment ministry.

An earlier Greenpeace study for the third quarter of 2018 showed that Mpumalanga also had the worst nitrogen dioxide emissions from power plants of any area in the world.

“South Africa’s air is absolutely filthy,” said Melita Steele, a senior climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace Africa. “We simply cannot afford to waste any more time by delaying industry compliance with air-quality legislation or the transition to renewable energy.”

Sasol will have to adhere to new sulfur dioxide emission limits by 2025, but has warned that it might not be able to afford the equipment needed to meet the standards. Eskom has filed for permission to delay complying with emission limits at some of its plants.

Sulfur dioxide is linked to lower respiratory infections and increased risk of stroke, as well as increased risk of death from diabetes.

Eskom accounts for 42% of South Africa’s greenhouse gases, while Sasol emits 11% of the total, the companies have said.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Visiting Europe. The first thing you miss are blue sky’s. Smoggy white colored with blue streaks is what you see looking upward. Way back in time the sky was like in Cape Town today. Blue with white clouds. Pointing green fingers to South Africa is forgetting the own created filth.

…it’s that not mere cloudiness in Europe?

Within the eternally wet Netherlands, you’re fortunate to see a blue sky. Sky is light grey most of times. Different climate system. Parts of UK/Ireland as well. Britons regard a particular day that is overcast (without any rain), actually great weather, chum.

Europe has a softer drizzle, over wider area, lasting hours on end (almost like Western Cape…when it rains) whereas Africa, cumulonimbus clouds are most prevalent (with sudden violent torrents, scattered, while the farm next door doesn’t get a drop). With lots of blue sky inbetween. But clear blue skies are also “bad weather” for local farmers. Great weather for pilots.

Europe > gentle rains
Africa > VIOLENT storms

That’s all thanks again to ESKOM. Way back in the dark ages as far as generating technology goes.

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