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Eskom Faces R5-Million Fine Over Kendal Power Station Pollution

On Friday, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy notified Eskom of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to pursue criminal prosecution.

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Eskom could face fines of up to R5-million under South Africa’s air quality legislation for supplying blatantly false and misleading information about its toxic pollution at the Kendal coal-fired power station to authorities.

On 28th January 2021, the state-owned energy utility will appear in the Emalahleni regional court on four counts of environmental transgressions.

On Friday 27th November, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy notified Eskom of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to pursue criminal prosecution.

The four counts, according to the department, are related to the emission of air pollutants at concentrations exceeding emission limits set in Kendal’s atmospheric emission licence (AEL); failure to comply with the conditions and/or the requirements of the AEL; committing an act likely to cause significant pollution of the environment, and supplying false and/or misleading information to an air quality officer.

Albi Modise, the Chief Director of Communications at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, says the “criminal investigation as well as the compliance notice, read with the minister’s objection decision, is based on the findings of previous site inspections” undertaken at Kendal, which is one of the country’s biggest power stations.

Read also: Electricity blackout to linger till Thursday in SA – Eskom

This is the first criminal investigation where the National Prosecuting Authority has decided to pursue a prosecution for a breach of air quality legislation by Eskom.

Business management consultancy EE Business Intelligence reported this week on the findings of an internal investigation compiled by Eskom’s audit and forensic team into Kendal’s air quality compliance and reporting.

This was instituted by the power utility’s chief executive officer, Andre de Ruyter in May.

The internal investigation found that exceedances of particulate matter atmospheric emissions of up to 10 times the allowable limit of 100mg/Nm3 occurred consistently for extended periods over the past two years at Kendal and that this was having a significant impact on people and the environment.

Between April last year and 31 March this year, EE Business Intelligence reported that the investigation found continuous and almost daily particulate matter emission exceedances by all six generation units at Kendal power station of up to 13 times the statutory particulate matter emission limit.

Related: Eskom’s bid for bigger tariffs rejected by South African court

Modise says that Eskom’s internal report notwithstanding, the department had already instituted both criminal and administrative enforcement action based on evidence that the company was in noncompliance with environmental law.

“Furthermore, and on the face of it, the contents of this report seemingly support the charges, which Eskom is currently facing,” says Modise.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland, the managing director of EE Business Intelligence, believes Eskom itself will have to face the music.

“It’s interesting as to whether people will face these consequences in their personal capacity or in their capacity as employees of Eskom. I will imagine that Eskom may be subject to sanctions. Obviously, that’s a matter for the court to decide. Frankly, there are people who bear responsibility both at the power station and at Eskom Megawatt Park,” Yelland said.

“Eskom uses load-shedding as a threat: ‘If you shut us down because we’re in non-compliance, we could have load-shedding’. But [Minister] Creecy has avoided this through phased-in shutdowns of units at Kendal,” Yelland said.

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East Africa Business News

Zambia, IMF Plan on Credit Extension Meet in February

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Fredson Yamba, Zambia’s Secretary to the Treasury, says his country will next month hold a virtual meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to negotiate an extended credit facility.

The virtual meeting will be held from February 1 to March 3, 2021, Yamba said.

According to Yamba, the meeting comes in the wake of a request by the Zambian government last November for a formal programme and a visit by an IMF team in December.

The meeting will be held under the Extended Credit Facility window which provides financial assistance to countries with protracted balance of payments challenges, a situation which the southern African nation faces.

The programme discussions will centre on the government’s objectives to attain fiscal and debt sustainability and on key pillars in the country’s economic recovery programme, he said in a release.

“In line with the need to stabilise the economy and gain traction on its reform agenda, the government as espoused in the economic recovery programme, 2020-2023, and prior cabinet approvals have prioritised having a formal programme with the IMF,’’ he added.

The talks, he said, will also focus on the need to scale up social protection programmes and undertake the much-needed reforms in the agriculture and energy sectors.

Zambia is seeking a financing agreement with the international lender to tackle its battered economy, which is getting worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Nigeria Bourse Drops N51Bn on MPC Rate Adjustment Fears

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The Nigerian Stock Exchange market capitalisation on Friday dropped further by N51 billion on sustained profit taking due to fear of rate adjustment by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

The MPC of the Central Bank of Nigeria first meeting of year has been slated for Jan. 25 and Jan. 26.

Specifically, the market capitalisation lost N51 billion or 0.24 per cent to close at N21.448 trillion compared with N21.499 trillion posted on Thursday.

Also, the All-Share which opened at 41,099.15 shed 97.16 points or 0.24 per cent to close at 41,001.99.

Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., attributed the persistent bearish trend to fear of likely rate cut by MPC.

“Historically, February is a dicey month for the stock market, despite being the period for early filers of full year earnings reports.

“The recent slow or profit booking is as a result of positive close of 2020 and fear of rate adjustment at the forthcoming MPC meeting, ahead of earnings reporting season,” Omordion said.

He said that the fear was heightened by the latest FGN Bonds which reopened on adjusted and juicier rates for long tenored bonds.

Omordion noted that the relative stability in the market was due to dominance of domestic institutional investors.

An analysis of the price movement chart indicates that 32 stocks recorded price depreciation, relative to 21 gainers.

Lafarge Africa topped the laggards’ table, dropping N1.95 kobo to close at N26 per share.

MRS trailed with N1.20 kobo to close at N11.20 kobo, while Livestock Feeds dipped 28k to close at N2.52 per share.

NEM Insurance lost 26k to close at N2.43, while United Bank for Africa dipped 25k to close at N8.70 per share.

On the other hand, Flour Mills led the gainers’ table, increasing by 40k to close at N32 per share.

NCR followed with 28k to close at N3.12, while Cutix added 20k to close at N2.26 per share.

Champion Breweries garnered 17k to close at N1.95, while United Bank for Africa improved by 10k to close at N5.55 per share.

Also, the volume of shares traded closed lower as investors bought and sold 591.46 million shares valued at N5.07 billion in 5,787 deals.

This was against 1.12 billion shares valued at N6.39 billion exchanged in 7,404 deals on Thursday.

Transcorp was the most active stock, exchanging 169.28 million shares worth N195.89 million.

Japaul Gold followed with an account of 47.28 million shares valued at N44.95 million, while UBA traded 36.64 million shares worth N321.81 million.

FBN Holdings exchanged 34.31 million shares valued at N250.82 million, while Zenith Bank sold 25.71 million shares worth N680.79 million.

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West Africa Business News

Chevron Nigeria Denies Responsibility for Bayelsa Oil Spill

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Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) declared on Friday that reported leaks near its operational areas at Funiwa offshore facilities off the Atlantic coast was not from its facilities.

It even pledged to support regulators in tracing the source.

Fishermen around the Atlantic Ocean coastline reported an oil leak suspected to be from the Funiwa fields on Sunday.

Chevron, the operator of the field, has, however, denied responsibility for the leakage.

Esimaje Brikinn, General-Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron, in an update, said that the oil firm remained committed to tracing the source of the spill, as part of a joint effort by operators in the area to investigate the leakage.

“The observed spill has been reported by CNL to the appropriate regulatory agencies.

“For spills found within an operator’s operational area, the operator is required to contain the spill, followed by a Joint Investigation Visit by all stakeholders for assessment and further action.

“No spill has been observed within CNL’s operational area, but we are monitoring this incident.

“CNL operates in strict compliance with the relevant laws and regulations governing the Nigerian petroleum industry and remains committed to the safety of people and the environment,’’ he stated.

Chevron and two other companies operate independently near the spill location.

It was gathered that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had summoned all the oil firms operating in the shallow waters near Koluama in Bayelsa in a bid to identify the source of the leaks.

Mr Musa Idris, Director-General, NOSDRA, in a telephone interview, said that the spills regulatory agency would dispatch its officials to the incident site.

Meanwhile, Chief Young Fabby, a community leader in Koluama 1, one of the impacted communities said that a joint team of Bayelsa government officials, oil firms operating in the area have scheduled a visit to the spill site for Friday.

“With the Joint Investigation Team visiting today, more facts will emerge. We are expecting the team to commence clean-up and remediation activities though the incident took place sometime around Saturday and oil discharge noticed since Sunday.

“There was high tidal currents at that time and it spread the oil ashore to the mangroves; we are ready to show the investigation team round when they arrive,” the community leader stated.

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