SA News

Sasol drops air pollution court challenge

Written by  Melanie Gosling, Cape Times Friday, 01 May 2015 04:07
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Cape Town – Petrochemicals giant Sasol has dropped its court challenge to have some of the government’s stricter new air pollution laws scrapped.

 

The withdrawal of the court action comes after the Department of Environmental Affairs granted Sasol several postponements in order to comply with the new regulations. This allows Sasol to continue to emit toxic pollutants that exceed the country’s air quality laws for another five years.

Sasol and Natref – a joint venture with Sasol Oil and Total SA – instituted legal action last year against Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and the National Air Quality Officer to have certain minimum emissions standards under the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act set aside. Sasol’s plants are located in hot spots where there is serious air pollution.

Sasol spokesman Alex Anderson confirmed yesterday the company had applied for postponements regarding complying with the air quality laws, which came into effect this month, because of “short-term challenges relating to the compliance time frames”.

The postponements had been granted and incorporated into Sasol’s atmospheric emission licences.

However, Sasol said the postponements may not give it long enough to clean up its pollutants, “particularly where feasible solutions are not presently available to achieve compliance with the new plant standards”. Sasol was referring to the standards it would have to comply with by April 2020.

Yesterday the Legal Resources Centre, which had asked to be admitted as a friend of the court, disputed Sasol’s claim that complying with the air pollution standards was not feasible. “Sasol is purely playing for time to save its shareholders money,” Angela Andrews, of the centre, said yesterday.

Sasol argued in court papers that some of these emission standards were unlawful, as the minister had not followed the correct procedures under the 2007 National Framework. It also argued that installing some of the equipment to clean up emissions would require a long lead time, while installing others would not be “reasonable or feasible in the South African context”.

The Legal Resources Centre said had Sasol persisted with and been successful in its court challenge against the government, it would have “set back a massive environmental programme for improved air quality by the department that spans over a decade”. There had been wide consultations with industry and a range of other parties over many years before the new laws were promulgated. “Sasol was never in favour of the proposed limits and attempted to have them watered down both before and after they were first implemented,” the centre said.

However, Sasol said yesterday it was “committed to advancing ambient air quality management in a sustainable manner” and would continue to engage with the government to find solutions for its “remaining challenges”.

Centre for Environmental Rights attorney Tracey Davies said: “By displaying such extraordinary unwillingness to act as a responsible corporate citizen and do everything in its significant power to invest in improving South Africa’s appalling air quality, from which millions suffer and to which Sasol is a significant contributor, Sasol is simply shoring up liability for the future.”

Molewa welcomed Sasol’s decision to withdraw legal action, saying the department played a key role in ensuring South Africans had an environment not harmful to their health.

Melanie Gosling, Environment Writer

 

Cape Times

MINING

It’s all about the money

The hazardous mining by-product raises two questions – who’s to blame and who should pay. The acid mine drainage crisis is going to cost someone a lot of money, but probably not the people who caused it. The “polluter pays” principle was next to impossible to apply to the acid mine drainage problem in a retrospective way, said Marius Keet, chief director for mine water management at the department of water and sanitation.

Down in the dumps, there's hope

"WHERE there's waste, there's opportunity," said mining hydrologist Kym Morton, ...

Fokus reports on Coal Mine east of Springs

SABC's Fokus of 23 July 2017 addresses the planned Palmietkuilen coal mine east ...

SA NEWS

Addressing waste and pollution of the past

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment is proud to announce the launch of the booklet titled “Rehabilitation of Mine Contaminated Eco-Systems. A Contribution to a Just Transition to a Low Carbon Economy to Combat Unemployment and Climate Change” by Mariette Liefferink of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE). The booklet was commissioned by the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) in collaboration with the Friedrick Ebert Stiftung.

Nuwe myn ‘sal duisende hul huise kos’

Byna 10 000 mense sal verskuif moet word as Anglo Operations Ltd en Canyon Coal hul sin kry om ’n massiewe oopgroefsteenkoolmyn oos van Springs te begin.

SA coal mines leave legacy of ruin

Johannesburg - A 19-month data investigation of mine closures indicates that since at least 2011 no large coal mines operating in South Africa have been granted closure.

Besoedelingklagte: Mynbase daag nie by hof op

Drie direkteure van die Blyvooruitzicht- en Village Main Reef-goudmyn buite ­Carletonville kan ’n boete van tot R10 miljoen of tien jaar tronkstraf opgelê word weens die beweerde besoedeling en agteruitgang van die omgewing.

WATER

Coalition defending Mpumalanga water source area

Last week, the coalition of eight civil society and community organisations that has been resisting the proposed coal mine inside a protected area and strategic water source area in Mpumalanga launched further proceedings in the Pretoria High Court.

Project to heal polluted river . System will·create stream·of jobs

THE POTENTIAL to create 100 climate jobs and to help : bring a "dead river syste...

'Mine Water can be treated, safe'

SOUTH Africans have to "change their mindsets" that they can't drink acid mine d...