SA sued for Eskom-Sasol air pollution

Environmental justice group GroundWork and community organisation Vukani announced yesterday that it would be taking legal action against Eskom Holdings and its owner Sasol for failing to alleviate the air pollution emitted by its power plants.

Represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), Vukani claims that government has violated the Constitutional right to a healthy environment for the people in the Highveld Priority Area (HPA) in Mpumalanga.

“[We] have decided to use litigation to push government to take urgent steps to deal with the high air pollution and in the interests of our health and to protect our right to clean air,” said Vusi Mabaso, Vukani chairperson.

The Department of Environmental Affairs declared Highveld a Priority Area in 2007 due to its poor air quality.

According to a statement by GroundWork, Mpumalanga accounts for an estimated 83% of the country’s coal production – Eskom owns 12 coal-fired power plants in and around the HPA area.

“High levels of air pollution in and around the HPA constitute an immediate and significant public health hazard that should be remedied.”

Sasol has already been granted permission to delay its compliance with the state’s emission standards until 2025 due to costs.

It’s estimated that the landmark lawsuit will add R300 billion in spending to an already debt-stumped Eskom.

The case was filed in the Pretoria High Court on 7 June.

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