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Is Eskom’s biggest operation power plant under threat of closure?

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Eskom is facing yet another challenge, as it is battling to keep all the units of its biggest operation power plant open.

This is after Eskom was served with a compliance notice by South Africa’s environment ministry because of the high levels of air pollution at its 4 116 megawatt Kendal power plant.

The power utility apparently failed to fully repair the pollution-abatement equipment at the power plant, which began malfunctioning in early 2018 and was further damaged during a strike in the same year.

Issuing the notice in December, the ministry claims the plant will need to close two of the six generating units, 1 and 5, if the necessary steps are not taken to bring them back to compliance.

Furthermore, the ministry demands maintenance plans for the other generating units. However, as Eskom struggles to supply South Africa with enough power, implementing nationwide load shedding; while struggling to service a debt of R454 billion, it seems the notice comes at an inopportune time.

But why is the ministry putting pressure on Eskom? How severe is the pollution?

South Africa generates the bulk of its power through coal. The plant’s emissions of particulate matter, which causes respiratory disease, has driven Eskom’s overall emissions of the pollutant to such an extent that it is apparently at its worst level in two decades.

Units at the plant have been emitting particulate matter at a multiple of the 100 milligrams per normal cubic meter limit. This pollutant causes asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, according to AirVisual, an air quality monitoring app.

While Eskom assures it has a plan of action to bring Kendal back into compliance, the power utility has objected to the compliance notice, because it will have a negative impact on the power supply.

As Eskom puts in a plan of action in order to meet the ministry’s requirements, while not putting people at a further health risk, what are your thoughts of the situation? Do you feel Eskom will be able to resolve the matter?  Also, how do you feel about Eskom not fully repairing the problem until they received an official notice?

Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.

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