Nongovernmental organisation Greenpeace Africa has called on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy to revise the weakening of the minimum emission standards (MES) to avoid further air pollution.
The organisation has also requested the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to disclose the circumstances around the emission of high levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) pollution, as was seen in Johannesburg and Pretoria this past week.
Greenpeace said the department should “act accordingly against the culprit of the emissions and halt activity in this regard”.
The organisation’s concerns and request follow as Johannesburg and Pretoria residents in the past week were exposed to high levels of SO2, which Greenpeace Africa climate and energy campaigner Thandile Chinyavanhu said is “only a glimpse” of what other communities – like Kriel, Secunda and other towns in Mpumalanga – are exposed to on a daily basis.
In the past year, Creecy has indicated that incidents such as this would become more regular, through weakening the MES and approving Sasol’s application for the postponement from compliance with these.
"The current air conditions are not only dangerous to children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions but also the thousands of South Africans battling Covid-19 infection,” Chinyavanhu lamented.
Chinyavanhu, on behalf of Greenpeace, further also expressed concern about the lack of transparency and accountability for the emissions, as neither Eskom nor Sasol have claimed responsibility for the emissions, in accordance with Section 30 of National Environmental Management Act.