Operations at Kusile not hampered by protest

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pretoria - Operations at coal fired power station Kusile have not been hampered as a result of a Greenpeace protest, Eskom says.

Greenpeace protesters arrived at the Mpumalanga power station on Monday morning with placards calling on the power utility to abandon the plant and instead invest in green energy sources and jobs.

Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe said about seven of the protesters had chained themselves to the gates of the facility.

"They were unchained and the protest has been peaceful. Operations have not been disrupted," said Joffe.

However, the protesters gained access to a crane at the site where they unfurled a giant banner declaring the power plant a "climate killer" from the top of the crane.

Greenpeace Africa campaigner Melita Steele said figures show that greenhouse gas emissions from coal burning are spiralling out of control with new plants such as Kusile. "This will condemn hundreds of millions of people to the terrifying consequences of climate change. Pledges by the South African government and others to tackle climate change are meaningless unless they stop building new coal fired power stations like Kusile," said Steele.

Joffe said Eskom has no issue with protests as long as they were peaceful and did not pose a threat to safety.

"The big picture is that we need to reduce carbon emissions and we support government on this. Eskom has a strategy to address this. We're investing in renewable energy and the Kusile plant is substantially cleaner," explained Joffe.

Kusile, near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga, is the second of the two large new coal-fired power stations, which Eskom is building to meet the country's electricity needs. It is the second most advanced coal-fired power plant project in Eskom after Medupi power station in Lephalale, Limpopo.

The station will consist of six units each rated at approximately 800 MW installed capacity giving a total of 4800 MW. The first of these units is planned for commercial operation in 2014.

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