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Friends of the Earth South Africa: Send Eskom to rehab for its coal addiction

by Megan Lewis — last modified Nov 27, 2013 11:02 AM

Eskom coal-fired power stations surround the home of Thomas Mnguni, who lives with his two young children in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, experiencing daily the health impacts of Eskom’s coal addiction. South Africa’s energy utility supplies 90% of its electricity through its coal-fired power stations. The pollutants generated by coal combustion and the health impacts are severe, and it is those that are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, pregnant women and children, that are forced to bear the brunt of Eskom’s activities. Eskom is now attempting to avoid compliance with South Africa’s laws on air quality, put in place to protect people’s health.

Thomas plays an active role in his community on these issues as he sees the impacts Eskom’s addiction to coal has on them:

“Eskom is directly polluting us, but they are in denial about how the emissions from their coal-fired power stations affect our health. In Middleburg, where my children and I live, the air is some of the worst in the country, if not the world. My child and many others in the community suffer from asthma”.

Thomas, his community, and the entire South African community need your help to put pressure on Eskom to clean up their act! And the way you can do this is by naming and shaming the company by voting for it in the Public Eye Awards www.publiceye.ch

Regardless of Eskom publicly admitting that it is probably the biggest emitter of pollutants in South Africa, it is currently attempting to gain exemption and/or postponement for 14 of its 18 coal-fired power stations from having to comply with air pollution standards (minimum emissions standards). The areas in which many of these power stations are found already exceed South Africa’s air quality emission standards, so these applications are a flagrant disregard for people’s health. It is estimated that the external public health cost resulting from the Kusile coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga, will be over R180 million (US$17.7m) , and 51% of hospital admissions in this province are from power generation activities.

Hosted by Greenpeace and the Berne Declaration, the international Public Eye Awards take place annually in parallel to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, to name and shame the world’s worst corporations, eight of which have been shortlisted this year based on human rights violations, environmental destruction and corruption.

Eskom is of course amongst these companies and the people of South Africa need your vote to put an end to Eskom’s coal addiction which is killing the people and their environment.

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