Greenpeace in talks with Eskom, govt on Mpumalanga pollution

Greenpeace in talks with Eskom, govt on Mpumalanga pollution

Environmental group Greenpeace says it’s in talks with Eskom and the Department of Environmental Affairs after analysis revealed that Mpumalanga is the worst air pollution hotspot in the world. 

Air pollution AFP

The data were analysed by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel Satellite. 

The satellite captured the information between 1 June and 31 August 2018. 

“The analysis has revealed that Mpumalanga is the worst nitrogen dioxide pollution hotspot in the world and that the province actually has the most polluting cluster of coal-fired power stations in the world. What this means is that the people living in the area around the coal-fired power stations are exposed to very high levels of pollutants,” says Greenpeace’s Melita Steele.

 She says the health and environmental consequences are severe. 


“Nitrogen dioxide is a dangerous pollutant that damages especially people’s respiratory system, so you’re looking at things like bronchitis, susceptible to the flu, asthma in the short term. Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause chronic diseases like heart diseases and things like lung cancer. In terms of the environment, the pollution coming from these coal-fired power stations is also contributing to climate change which is probably one of the biggest threats facing humanity at the moment."

The department says it is aware that Mpumalanga is a hotspot and has been working to reduce the levels of all pollutants in the area. 

But Dr. Thuli Khumalo, the National Air Quality Officer at the Department, believes the Greenpeace analysis is limited.


“This report is written from satellite imagery, it is the upper atmosphere nitrogen dioxide and one of the challenges we reported was that they are using emissions and upper atmosphere nitrogen dioxide interchangeably, and the two are completely different. With upper atmosphere we may not know all the sources, the challenge is that they are relating that to emissions. Yes, emissions have contributed and yes, Eskom could be a major source, but it wouldn’t be Eskom only.”  

Steele says they are in talks with the department and Eskom as there is an urgent need to move away from coal towards renewable energy.

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