The Costs of Eskom’s Non-compliance with emissions standards

This paper provides an estimate of the health damages and economic costs that would be avoided if Eskom was made to fully comply with the national air emission standards — the very standards it is currently trying to bypass.

The South African state-owned utility Eskom is currently applying for wide-ranging postponements from a law that sets minimum emission standards for power plants.

Eskom claims that complying with the standards would simply cost the utility too much, and that its coal plants don’t adversely affect human health – a claim this piece of research flatly contradicts.

The purpose of Eskom’s application is to enable the company to follow a euphemistically named “Emission Reduction Plan”. The plan would entail dramatically higher air pollution emissions, far higher than would be admissible if they complied with the Minimum Emission Standards (MES).

This non-compliance would make the emissions standards close to meaningless, as they concern the majority of South Africa’s thermal power stations.

Air pollution emissions from thermal power plants contribute to ambient particulate matter, which is the most important environmental health risk globally, as well as to emissions of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that harms the mental development of children.

Regardless of this, Eskom has refused to assess the health impacts of its proposed postponements, the majority of which are effectively exemptions.

This paper applies available modeling tools implementable in GIS software to provide an estimate of the health damages and economic costs that would be avoided by requiring Eskom to comply fully with the national air emission standards.

Download the report here.
1.2Mb, 18 pages.

Health impacts of Eskom applications 2014 _final