According to a new report by US coal plant expert, Dr Ranajit Sahu nearly all Eskom power plants exceed air pollution limits stipulated in their licences.
The report says Eskom exceeds its compliance limits in terms of acceptable immissions levels by 3200 times its acceptable levels.
Sahu says he looked at 14 out of 15 SA coal power plants and they were putting out tremendous amounts of pollution both legally and illegally.
The 3200 number was over their already permissible limits. That is how many times they have exceeded their own standards within a 21 month period.— Dr Ranajit Sahu, US coal plant expert
Sahu notes that it was difficult for him to get reports from Eskom and it took many months to get what should be public data.
It was difficult to get this data. We eventually got the reports, but they were in a format that we had to interpret. My recommendation is that they should put out this data in a transparent form and that would have been helpful.— Dr Ranajit Sahu, US coal plant expert
Even giving the benefit of a doubt my findings are quite shocking.— Dr Ranajit Sahu, US coal plant expert
Eskom totally disagrees with Sahu's report.
Senior Manager for Environmental Management at Eskom, Deidre Herbst told Bongani Bingwa that there are many studies that have been conducted and some estimated as low as three premature deaths due to Eskom emissions and some are far higher than 2000 deaths.
But I think what the important thing is what are we going to do about it, do we recognise them and do we acknowledge them?— Deidre Herbst, Environmental manager - Eskom
She adds that some of the health studies that one can get to determine the exact amount of people being impacted by Eskom emissions is not available.
There has been no study in South Africa that has gone into enough detail and information and studied enough to examine an exact number. There is no exact number. The number is determined by the level of pollution estimated in an area and an estimation of how much of the population is exposed to that level of pollution.— Deidre Herbst, Environmental manager - Eskom
So that is why the numbers vary from one end to the other.— Deidre Herbst, Environmental manager - Eskom
She adds that in terms of its licences, it is allowed to exceed its daily limit.
Energy Expert, Chris Yelland also joined into the conversation and says Eskom's own studies indicate that 3300 people are killed as a result of air pollution.
Listen below to the full interview: