Greenpeace Africa says thousands of tons of air pollution and dangerous ash are spewing from Eskom's Kendal power station, where its ash handling system has been broken for months. Picture: Greenpeace Africa
JOHANNESBURG - Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s biggest polluter, is struggling to curb its highest particulate emissions in two decades after its Kendal power plant was damaged during a strike.

The emissions, which cause respiratory disease, were about 0.5 kilograms per megawatt hour sent out in the six months to Sept. 30, Eskom said in its interim results presentation on Thursday. The 2018 strike resulted in damage to the plant’s anti-pollution equipment.

“The last two years has been the worst we have seen in 20 years and it’s just from one power station,” Deidre Herbst, Eskom’s environmental manager, said in an interview. “It’s not acceptable, but all the other power stations are reporting well.”

Air pollution is becoming a key issue in South Africa. Residential areas near Eskom’s 15 coal-fired power stations have pollution levels that rival the most contaminated cities on the planet. Environmental activists are suing the government over breaching the constitutional right to clean air because of emissions from Eskom and chemicals company Sasol Ltd.

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s biggest polluter, is struggling to curb its highest particulate emissions in two decades after its Kendal power plant was damaged during a strike. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
Efforts are being made to repair the equipment, Herbst said. The plant cannot be taken off line in its entirety because the utility is struggling to supply South Africa with sufficient power. Repairs will probably be completed and lower particulate emissions achieved from March next year, said Herbst.

Kendal is designed to produce about 4,000 megawatts of electricity.

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