Pollution news in brief

Posted by Laura Grant on March 31, 2008
Posted in Green News

SULPHUR BUSTING FIRST – A new 5,400MW coal-fired power station planned for the Mpumalanga town of Witbank will be fitted with technology to control sulphur dioxide emissions. This will be the first time Eskom installs technology to control sulphur dioxide emission. In the past the utility only regulated dust emissions. Environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has promised that the power station would be fitted with “the most advanced air pollution abatement equipment installed at a power station in South Africa”. According to a government media release, “the technology to be installed is called flue gas desulphurisation or FGD and involves the scrubbing of sulphur dioxide gas with a sorbent (limestone) to limit the emissions of sulphur dioxide to the atmosphere. The process also removes the majority of the dust from the emissions and has added benefits such as reducing the mercury emissions from the plant.” The reason behind the new power station’s pollution control measures appears to be that it falls within the recently declared Highveld Priority Area. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has plans to do something about the poor air quality in the region.

CARBON CREDITS – Chemical group Omnia will reportedly get R60-million from the International Finance Corporation for 1-million of its carbon credits. Omnia will generate about 500,000 certified emission reduction units (CERs) from its Sasolburg plant’s nitrous oxide destruction facility. The IFC has reportedly committed to buying 50 percent of Omnia’s CERs which it will then sell globally. Richard Worthington of the South African Climate Action Network asks in a letter Business Day whether there will be a contribution to sustainable development in the Omnia deal. He says that the emission reduction will be achieved by flaring nitrous oxide, which is required by law in most industrialised countries but is not a costly exercise. (Business Day 1, 2)

BURNING ISSUE – Parliament’s environmental affairs and tourism committee has decided not to ban waste incineration outright but has opted for strict regulation, Business Day reports. Incineration is also used to dispose of hazardous waste and could be used for the co-generation of electricity. Cement producers use incinerated waste in their kilns, the repor says. But environmental NGO groundWork wants incineration banned outright. All “burn” technologies resulted in the release of dioxins and furans (cancer-causing chemicals) and also heavy metals such as mercury, it says. The NGO took the issue to the public protector saying that incineration was a violation of our constitutional right to a healthy environment. According to the new National Environmental Management Waste Bill, applications for licences to incinerate waste would have to provide the department with information about the waste to be disposed of, the existence of incinerators in the area and alternative environmentally friendly treatments. (Business Day)


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