Kendall power plant up to be scrapped

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GK CRONJE

9 June 2020

Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has already instructed Eskom to stop operations at least at one of two Kendal power station units found to be posing serious health risks to the surrounding communities. Kendal, built in 1982 is not on the list as Eskom began shutting down some of its old power stations in 2019. It shut three units at the Hendrina power. Grootvlei was scheduled to close this year, and Komati by 2021.

Suzuki Ermelo (WEB) 22 September 2020.jp

Environmental activists are mounting on pressure for a complete shutdown of the 4116MW Kendal power plant, located 40km west of eMalahleni, on the grounds its toxic emissions were killing people. However, there are fears that a shutdown of Kendal power station in Mpumalanga would paralyze several small businesses and destroy livelihoods in the coal mining towns. “Poisonous coal power plants must be shut down sooner rather than later, in a fair process that fully involves all coal workers and communities, and urgently replaced with cleaner, cheaper renewable power,” said Timothy Lloyd, attorney at the Centre for Environmental Rights. Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has already instructed Eskom to stop operations at least at one of two Kendal power station units found to be posing serious health risks to the surrounding communities. Kendal, built in 1982 is not on the list as Eskom began shutting down some of its old power stations in 2019. It shut three units at the Hendrina power. Grootvlei was scheduled to close this year, and Komati by 2021.

Arnot will be decommissioned by 2029. Concerned coal transporting businesses believe the move to decommission stations will put them out of business and leave coal mining towns with no economy. In a notice served on Eskom, Creecy said the power utility must stop operations at either unit one or unit five at Kendal within 30 days. Eskom submitted the units had been repaired, and their present problems were the result of poor coal quality, and due to poor quality of work on site. According to Eskom, it was crucial for the units to remain active for the utility to meet the country’s electricity demands and avoid or limit load shedding. However, Creecy found there was no merit in Eskom’s position, and that Eskom “misrepresented the facts” about the level of emissions from the units. “As an example, they claim that Unit 5 averaged less than 600mg/nM3 in February 2019. But according to the monthly Emissions Report for February 2019, the monthly average is estimated at 1227mg/nM3. It follows that the figure of 600mg/nM3 emanates from the fact that Eskom decided to add days in which the unit was switched off in determining the monthly average. Eskom is well aware that this is an unacceptable practice,” Creecy stated. The decision to force stoppage of one unit took into consideration the need to avoid load shedding, Creecy said.

“In essence, the operation of units 1 and 5 should not be ceased simultaneously. In my view, this will allow (Eskom) an opportunity to carry out the required maintenance and remedial work on one unit at a time in order to bring the units in compliance with the requirements of the Atmospheric Emission Licence. I am mindful of the fact that the failure to take action to bring the power station back into compliance, among others, will continue to present serious environmental impacts and health threats to the affected communities,” she concluded. Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha stated that the station has been operating above the emission limits since the strike action late in 2018 left infrastructure vandalised and damaged. “During the strike the interior of the electrostatic precipitator (ESP) was vandalised and the functioning of the dust-handling plant compromised. To repair it, the ESPs of several generation units require long outages and the repairs on generation units can only be executed one after the other,” he said. Environmental NGO’s gave Creecy what they termed evidence that emissions from Kendal were responsible for as many as 274 deaths between November 2018 and October 2019.

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