National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, emission standards under Section 21: public hearings day 2

Water and Sanitation

08 May 2013
Chairperson: Adv J de Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Through their submissions several organisations sought to bring forward their objections to and problems with the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004) Section 21 regulations as they stood. A main problem was that the Department of Environmental Affairs’ process of engagement with stakeholders had been lacking and had focused too much on bilateral meetings. Various organisations argued that the process needed to be more inclusive and speak to a wider range of stakeholders and issues.

The Chemical and Allied Industry Association presentation covered the National Framework for Air Quality Management, the status of the current notice, nitrogen dioxide emissions and production, combustion installations, chemicals, burning grounds and the way forward.

A Member raised the matter of time frames. The Chairperson stated that the matter of waste and burn sites needed to be engaged with.

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment submission covered the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004) Framework, the issue of storage handling of ore and coal, concerns, the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act Draft Dust Regulations for 2012, recommendations and examples that showcased the current situation.

The Legal Resources Centre's own submission covered the legal framework, S 21 listed activities, stakeholder negotiation history, concerns in terms of administrative fairness of amendment process, and recommendations.

Members stated that there was a need to tackle the matter of dust and how it affected communities. They also raised the question of what should be done with the milling companies.

The Environcin Pet Crematorium and Memorial Park, Johannesburg, submission provided an historical snap shot, main concerns and requests, research and data on emissions limits, and comments on unintended consequences.

Members raised questions about the fuel used in cremation and the role of the organisation.

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) submitted on the problems faced by communities within the South Durban area arguing that there was a need to make multinationals comply with local regulations. It gave examples of the ailments faced by the communities such as asthma and which even caused death. The developed countries had technology and mechanisms that protected their people from harmful activities but such measures were not utilised locally.

Members stated that there was a need to engage local government rather than talk to international actors. They also said that the South Durban community should not still be struggling as the Committee and Department had engaged them in 2010. The Chairperson urged those present to understand the relationship between the legislature and the executive. 

The Association of Cementitious Material Producers submitted its views on international experience, definitions, inbound raw materials, compliance timeframes, multiple standards, and unnecessary monitoring, and gave recommendations. 

The Chairperson recommended that the Association of Cementitious Material Producers look at the technical issues in terms of policy.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association spoke to the background, the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004) provisions that needed to be met, and outstanding issues of concern. It also spoke to need for an holistic approach in order to met the Act's provisions, and the disconnect between ambient and point source standards. It also spoke to the amendment of unsustainable emissions standards.

The discussion brought up notions of timeframes, international standards, the life of a plant, the discrepancy between the civil society organisations' presentations and that of South African Petroleum Industry Association, and compliance.

The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) submitted orally on the background to its involvement, concerns on chemical recovery ‘Copeland’ reactors: sub-category 9.3, Category 1: combustion installations, Sub-category 1.1: solid fuel combustion installations, thermal treatment of hazardous and general waste, and Category 9.5: wood burning, drying and the production of manufactured wood products. The Association stated that there were a number of issues on which there were a need for further interaction.

The Chairperson said that the phase-out approach was better. Members spoke about the effect that the ‘Copeland’ reactors had had on the labour force.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that this was the second day of these hearings.  He also said that a request from the Minister and the ruling by the Chief Whip had meant that most of the agenda for next week was soon to change as a number of things that were to be discussed could not be discussed anymore.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) had been asked to return on 29 May to report on the mechanisms as well as the issues that had been raised in the hearings.  He stated that this should not change the input of those present.  He thanked everyone for participating in the process to make sure that the right balance was created.

Legal Resources Centre Proposed Amendments to the S21 Listed Activities of the Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004) Submission
Ms Angela Andrews, LRC Attorney, said that the LRC was making the presentation, as the LRC had been a part of the standard setting.  She presented on the background as well as the legal framework. She said that the LRC had participated, with the assistance of Prof Eugene Cairncross, in the multi-stakeholder consultation process for the 2009 Section 21 (S21) Notice pertaining to emission standards for Listed Activities. The quality of ambient air in many areas of the Republic was not conducive to a healthy environment for the people living in those areas. The burden of health impacts associated with polluted ambient air fell most heavily on the poor.  Air pollution carried a high social, economic and environmental cost that was seldom borne by the polluter. The minimisation of pollution through vigorous control, cleaner technologies and cleaner production practices was key to ensuring that air quality was improved. The objects of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act (NEM: AQA or AQA) were to enhance ambient air to ensure an environment that was not harmful to health and wellbeing. The S21 Listed Activities regulation was an important step towards “minimisation of pollution through vigorous control.”

She also presented on the NEM: AQA Framework and said that there needed to be an expert panel to develop standards. She argued that there should be representation from state departments, provincial and municipal government, industry, business, civil society, and academia.

She said that factors to be considered were the health, safety and environmental protection objectives, analytical methodology, technical feasibility, monitoring capability, and socio-economic consequences.

The activities identified by the Minister/Member of the Executive Council (MEC) to have potential significant detrimental effect on the environment included health, social conditions, economic conditions, ecological conditions, and cultural heritage.

In terms of setting standards there was a best practicable environmental option (BPEO), the most benefit/least harm at a cost acceptable to society and informed by the best available technology (BAT). This BAT was informed by international documentation.  The word ‘practicable’ referred to the cost benefit analysis in peer reviewed and international literature.

It had taken two years to set the standards and there had been numerous subcommittees and stakeholder discussions. There had been disclosure of all information to stakeholders within these processes. In 2009 S21 emission standards had seen two years of multi stakeholder discussions, approximately 300 emission standards considered, disclosure of all submissions to stakeholders, technical debate on emission limits and best available technology and international best practice, and the process continuing for new categories, e.g. small boilers.

In 2012 proposed amendments to the S21 notice could be outlined as follows: 27 July 2012: notice of consultation regarding typographical amendments only, 22 August: draft amendments circulated but no comment requested, bilateral discussions with stakeholders held but no multi stakeholder discussions, and
23 November: new draft amendments published for comment.

Ms Andrews presented on the concerns in terms of administrative fairness of the amendment process. There had been a relaxation of standards and no space for the LRC to influence and respond to processes, as LRC had not been privy to industry submissions.

The departure from the NEM: AQA Framework consultation process/BPEO had brought a lack of transparency in bilateral discussions. Standards for major polluters, for example, the oil industry, had been significantly reduced and compliance timeframes extended.

The unilateral change in consultation had been to the detriment of persons in receiving environmental support. Ms Andrews argued that there had been no opportunity to challenge technical representations by industry stakeholders, reduced or no access to information on representations, reduced opportunity to influence decision making, and wasted costs.

Ms Andrews recommended that the Department needed to make typographical and other non-substantive amendments by a correction notice in terms of Section 4(b) of the AQA. No other amendments should be made without following the Framework process [paragraphs and of the National Framework for Air Quality Management]. A technical committee needed to be established (representatives from government, the relevant industrial sector, business, civil society and scientists/academics). Before amendments were made, the Committee needed to consider factors like health, safety, environmental protection, technical feasibility, monitoring capability, and socio-economic consequences. BPEO needed to be pursued with “best” informed by use of BAT. The Committee needed to continue to identify technology improvements and update BAT information to establish emission standards for additional industry types and pollutants. The Committee needed to use this information to undertake a five-year review of emission standards. If the Department did not wish to follow the Framework process, amendments needed to be held over for the five-year review prescribed by the Framework. Lastly she stated that the proposed amendments should be withdrawn.

There had needed to be disclosure of why there had been a move away from the consultative process. She understood there was a stakeholder meeting and there needed to be a consideration of the process and not just of substantive matters.

The Chairperson said the meeting would be about substantive matters and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had already commented on the process.

Ms Andrews replied that it was her understanding that others had not.

The Chairperson said that he had not been happy with the way the process had gone either and a great number of issues raised could have been avoided had there been a more inclusive processes. However, he could not force the Department to follow a process, which it was not legally obliged to follow. All the Committee could do was criticise the process and the LRC needed to bear in mind the limitations imposed by the separation of powers.

Ms Andrews said that there had not been time to make a more comprehensive submission. This would have a great impact on affected communities. She thanked the Committee for its time.

Legal Resources Centre Proposed Amendments to the S21 Listed Activities of the Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004) Submission on behalf of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment
Ms Andrews said, on behalf of the FSE, that the organisation was principally concerned with the impact of mining and was focused in the Gauteng area. The FSE argued that the standard given did not adequately taking into account the problem. She presented on the NEM: AQA Framework, saying that paragraph stated “where the control of diffuse emissions is considered significant enough to warrant inclusion in national standards  (e.g. fugitive dust at bulk ore/coal handling and processing plants and certain metallurgical industries…) emission limits expressed in the form of specific best practice control measures which are applicable across individual industries must be stipulated or alternatively a comprehensive fugitive emission management plan must be put in place”. (See slide 4).

There needed to be a proactive fugitive emissions management plan. There also needed to be an averaging period as the current one was monthly and did not address high levels of dust. The concerns were that regulations applied only to two mining ores. She argued that all ores should be included. There was also the problem that the requirement for a fugitive emission management plan had been removed. The averaging period was monthly and did not address incidents of high levels of dusts. The proposed standard under Section 32 of the NEMA: AQA was insufficiently protective of health, and mine dumps which were to be re-mined needed be included as ores.

The standard of the NEM: AQA draft dust regulations 2012 was based on a three-month average dust fallout figure. The dust management plan was required only after the standard was transgressed. There was discretion as to whether to require dust monitoring, and the regulations were reactive rather than proactive in approach. She recommended that the category needed to be extended to all mining ores. Mining waste that was intended for re-mining should be classified as ores in terms of category 5.1, and the fugitive emission management plan needed to be based on best practice internationally.

She gave the example of the Witwatersrand Mining Basin. The Witwatersrand had been mined for more than a century.  It was the world’s largest gold and uranium mining basin. The basin covered an area of 1 600 km2, and led to a legacy of some 400 km2 of mine tailings dams and six billion tons of pyrite tailings containing 450 000 tons of uranium and metals such as magnesium (Mg), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), arsenic (As), nickel (Ni), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co) and lead (Pb).  In addition, long-lived cyanide-metal complexes persisted in tailings dams and sand dumps and mercury (Hg) was still used for gold amalgamation by artisanal miners.

Many active and decommissioned slimes dams were affected by wind erosion blowing off significant amounts of fine tailings dust, especially during dry winter months. She argued that this not only affected nearby residents but also contributed indirectly to pollution of urban water courses as much of the blown-off dust settled on impervious surfaces from where it was flushed into storm water drainage systems. The resulting volumes of tailings dust finally being discharged into receiving streams were significant. Due to the small particle size of the slimes, particulate matter could be transported over relatively long distances to agriculturally used land in the surrounding areas.  Furthermore, since the dawn of the new uranium renaissance in 2003, many uraniferous slimes dams were reworked by local mining companies as well as foreign investors, which were resulting in the liberation of radioactive and toxic dust particles.

Pollution from Witwatersrand mines posed a number of hazards to surrounding communities. The major primary pathways by which contamination could enter the environment from a mine site were:

- the airborne pathway, where radon gas and windblown dust dispersed outwards from mine sites,

- the inhalation and ingestion of contaminated dust generated by wind erosion from these objects, and;

- the contamination of agricultural crops (pasture, vegetables) by the deposition of radioactive dust particles, which could cause considerable dose contributions via ingestion.

1.6 Million persons lived in informal settlements next to mine residue deposits.

The dust exposure in mines was linked to silicosis, and uranium - once it entered the body - had been recently found to exhibit many more toxic effects than had been unknown when most of the current guidelines were established. Particularly targeted were the kidney, the brain and the reproductive system. It was apparent that uranium and heavy metal exposure would have a profound effect on the health of any population, and that the range of effects covered the entire spectrum of disease.

Milling companies
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked if milling companies were also a part of the problem and should be considered in the same way that other mining ores should be. Were the milling companies a different issue altogether?

Ms Andrews replied that she was not sure how to respond but milling produced dust and the regulations should cover all bases. The regulations covered packaging and if there was a loophole then this should be addressed.

Ms C Zikalala (IFP) said that these activities were dangerous to the lives of people and were ‘a silent killer’. She was glad that there were people speaking up about the issues

Ms J Manganye (ANC) also wanted to thank Ms Andrews as she was from a mining area and there was a great deal of dust.  The issue of re-mining was important, as it was one that affected people.

Ms Andrews replied she was glad that these comments had been made. She agreed there was a need to explore ‘best practice’ and make sure that the regulations properly addressed the problems.

Notes to the Department
The Chairperson spoke to the Department stating that it was the prerogative of the Department on how to consult. He said, however, that the practice that had been followed would not have been a problem had the extensive consultations with industry been balanced by consultations with other stakeholders. There could be a great number of consequences. There was a need for a balance and this could only be done by listening to as many people as possible.  People needed to be a part of the process, which needed to be as inclusive as possible. He argued that in the current process the Department had left itself open to criticism.  He urged the Department to make future processes as inclusive and transparent as possible.

The mine dust issue needed a response.  Were there plans or standards in place to deal with mine dumps? This was for the Department to engage in. There was a need to engage with the issue of the mine dumps as it was the disadvantaged who lived near mine dumps and they had the least chance of having houses that insulated them against these mine dumps.

The Department must give clarity on the issue of mining and non-mining areas. Standards appeared not to be present in mining areas. In terms of non-mining areas, what was the Department's view of including mine dumps within the definition of ore?

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) oral submission,
Mr Bongani Mthembu, SDCEA Air Quality and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Officer, said that civil society played a pivotal role in holding government and private companies to account when it came to the lives of ordinary citizens.  After many years working with the Department there had been a seeming break down of relationship as the SDCEA had been attempting to get information from it since 2011. However, it had received more than 338 complaints about air pollution from communities. SDCEA had forwarded these to the Department but there had been no response. SDCEA thus questioned the standards that the Department had set.  Although a number of gas emissions were part of the priority pollutant list, carbon dioxide also needed to be added to the list. It was one of the key contributors to health problems and global warming. There was a concern that emission levels from industry triggered various health problems. He argued that there had been protection of industry players for years either though the barest minimum of laws or no laws at all. In south Durban, despite the installation of 13 air monitoring stations, which measured for only five chemicals out of a total of 300, there was still a lack of political will to enforce the law where serious violations had taken place.  For this reason SDCEA submitted that a minimum emissions limit be established and heavy measures put in place for those who emitted these pollutants. There also needed to be risk assessments that were accessible to all stakeholders and these must take into account the worst case scenarios.

SDCEA recommended the formation of an expert panel to include community experts and academics to develop the standard. The Committee needed to direct the Department to have an inclusive stakeholder forum of national, provincial and local government officials as well as community representatives. Producing companies and trade unions needed to work on a panel to reduce high levels of pollution in South Durban. The Department needed to be directed to work on the recommendation of the 2006 ‘Health Study’ and allow this to form part of a multi stakeholder forum.  There were industries not complying and they were polluting and doing as they pleased. There were communities that lived adjacent to these refineries. The last recommendation was that no polluting industry should be allowed to develop and expand in the South Durban basin (there were already a large number within the area). The air quality standard needed to be developed according to international standards in terms of systems and equipment. Carbon dioxide needed to be included as a priority pollutant and the Committee needed to visit communities in ‘hot spot areas’ to gain insight into the high level of pollutants and the impact this had on those within the area. Breadwinners were often the worst affected and had to use the little money that they earned for medication. He argued that it was unfair that big multi nationals made profits at the expense of the lives and health of local people. He wished that the Department took this into consideration, as people were sick and getting ‘fed up’. It seemed like the industries did as they pleased and nothing was done about it. The industry players refused to take responsibility for what was happening and there was a need for clarity on the way forward. The Department needed to provide a marked-up version of the document and an explanation for the amendment of the process.

Mr Mthembu had toured Europe in 2011 and had found that there were a number of measures in western countries to protect local people that were not utilised by the same companies in Africa. He had met with officials in The Hague, Netherlands, and had raised his concerns as to what was happening in South Durban. He had highlighted that the way Shell operated in South Africa was different to the way that it did in Holland. This was also the case with Engen and the way in which it operated in Malaysia. He questioned why this was the case as South Africa was just a host country. He had stated that government needed to regulate how these companies operated. The officials had replied to him that ‘their hands were tied’ and that it was up to the South African government to take action.  It was difficult for them to impose standards on South Africa. He had said that his advocacy had started in the local context with the Department and the government but efforts had been fruitless. He was now appealing to the ‘parent country’ to take the onus as the company's home country. The officials had replied that only the government of the country in which the company operated a subsidiary could make industry comply. He had found this just an excuse.

The Chairperson said that certain recommendations showed a misunderstanding of the relationship between the executive and legislature and Parliament could not tell the Department what to do. He did, however, understand the underlying rationale and this would be put to the Department.

There were moves to put the issue of site visits on the agenda. The Department had also been asked to come on 29 May to give a comprehensive presentation on the existing machinery for controlling air pollution and what could be done.

Ms Zikalala said that she did not understand how the people of South Durban were still suffering from air pollution. The Committee had visited the Durban South Area in 2004 with the then Deputy Minister as Members had wanted to hear the grievances directly from the community. The people of Durban South had, at that time, really been suffering. During that time the Committee had been compelled to go to Brazil and look at the situation there.  When she had suggested using technology to remedy the problem back in South Africa (the problem had been overcome in Brazil) the Department had stated that the use of technology had been too expensive.

Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) said that municipalities had a role to play in such issues. She also argued that the government was making an effort to make sure there was compliance and in all provinces there was the problem of multinationals not complying. She said that as public representatives Members would commit themselves to make sure that something was done.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) said that the mandate of public representatives was clear - to make laws and regulations and amend those that did not work well. What was being discussed was the amendment of laws and there was a need to make sure laws ‘did not offend’ and protected people. The issues of people were to be considered through laws and legislation. He also argued that the foreign policy of South Africa was not the same as that of other countries. One nation state could not enforce laws within the borders of another and that was why the ‘mother countries’ had said that their hands were tied. He said that one should never discuss the issues of the country to another country.  He said that there was no reason that the three spheres of government should fail SDCEA. It was not only the South Durban community that faced problems and thus a holistic approach was needed. He sympathised but he asked those present to contribute to the amendments to assist the country.

Mr Mthembu replied that his visit had been to tell the mother countries that there was good technology that was being utilised in developed countries and the same should be used in developing nations and more specifically South Durban. This was technology that ensured the safety of those in developed countries. The multinationals used the technology in other countries yet they argued their hands were tied. It was merely a lack of will. He argued that enforcing a law and compiling with it were two different things.  The law was there and could be enforced; however, would the industry comply?  He argued that for organisations not work with the Department was fruitless, as they needed to serve as the middlemen. It would seem that in Durban the Department was on the side of industry as there was no information coming in. Organisations ended up fighting with the city in order to get information.  There were lives at stake and people were increasingly becoming ill and people were dying.

Dr S Huang (ANC) said he had concerns about the local municipality and wanted to hear what the national Department had to say about the lack of interaction with the local community.

Environcin Pet Crematorium and Memorial Park, Johannesburg Potential & Unintended Consequences of S21 listed activities and associated emissions limits for pet cremation in South Africa submission
Mr Dean Webb, owner of Environcin Pet Crematorium and Memorial Park, Johannesburg, stated that the organisation dealt only with dead bodies of animals and did not deal with animal waste. Pets could be hazardous if they ended up on landfill sites. He said that 1 in 3 pets that the organisation cremated were from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and were done at a lower cost. He represented the South African Association of Companion Animal Crematoria.  

The organisation's work had originally been included in Category 8: Disposal of Hazardous General Waste, 31 March 2010.

Its main concerns were separation from Category 8, and the creation of a category for companion animal crematoria. It was concerned about a capacity threshold of 10 tonnes per day of homogenous animal matter (Directive 2000/76/EC of the European Parliament … on the incineration of waste). It was concerned about the review of bi-annual testing requirements. It sought clarity on the term ‘veterinary waste’. It wanted a thoughtful review of emissions limits and the issue of ‘3% ozone vs 10%’.

Mr Webb discussed the research conducted and data collected. This included environmental and technologies, independent studies and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) information. He also covered the emissions limits. 

The unintended consequences included an increase in the number of corpses of pets in landfills, the number of corpses of welfare animals in landfills increasing, various human rights and environmental implications (people had been witnessed carrying off the carcasses of dead animals), non-compliance and associated penalties, job losses and unemployment as establishments closed, pet owner uproar, the issue of horses being put down with drugs rather than being shot (one must find a new way to dispose of them), and inhibiting growth and expansion in the sector.

The Chairperson suggested that it would be good to talk to the crematorium industry as it was small and clearly needed to be a sub category on their own. He told the Department that it would kill the industry if it were not given a category on its own.

Ms Wenger asked what was happening in cases such as bird flu or avian flu. What happened to those animals in terms of landsites? She also asked if the fuel used by pet crematoria was the same as other fuels.

Mr Webb replied that his organisation was available to assist when there were outbreaks. However, that was a ‘different ball game’ from the organisation's own work. The organisation would be able to dispose of bird flu animal victims safely. Paraffin was used as a fuel in KwaZulu-Natal and low sulphur diesel in Gauteng.

The Chairperson said what was happening in the land fill sites was terrible and one did not want to discourage the growth of this industry.

Chemical and Allied Industries Association submission
Dr Laurraine Lotter, Executive Director, Chemical and Allied Industries Association, said that she agreed with Ms Andrews that the process had not been done in a satisfactory manner and her organisation had contacted the Department in this regard. Her presentation covered the National Framework for Air Quality Management. The standard-setting factors to be considered were health, safety and environmental objectives, analytical methodology, technical feasibility, monitoring capability, and socio-economic consequences.

The listed activities included to be informed by cost benefit analysis, the approach must ensure no unjustified economic impacts, best practice environmental option based on BAT, and 'used-for-point sources', i.e. stacks and vents

In compliance timeframes there was need to be informed by industry cycles, minimum timeframes - more restricted by licensing, possible extensions, and an atmospheric impact report.

She presented on the status of the current notice saying that the list intended to target activities where economic benefits of regulation outweighed its cost (largely derived from the old Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act. (No. 45 of 1965) (APPA)).

She argued that the following would result in significant challenges: the intention to address errors in the 2010 Notice, the publication for comment of the revised version in 2012 for comment over December, the extension granted to 23 January 2013, and new activities and requirements. In terms of compliance timeframes there had been no recognition given for the fact that errors in the 2010 notice prevented upgrade or that new requirements had been added, the extent of re-engineering required was not possible in less than two years, legal certainty was essential for planning, multiple postponements did not provide certainty, and new requirements in this notice.

Nitrogen dioxide emissions/production had fallen from 97 tonnes/million tonnes production to 12 tonnes/million tonnes.

Waste, as a fuel, had not been excluded for combustion installations in 2010. Consequences of exclusion had not been discussed. Internationally waste of known composition used as fuel on same site was treated differently from when incinerated by a service provider along with other waste of unknown origin. Current practice should have been permitted to continue until technical and economic feasibility had been assessed and waste regulations prohibited landfill disposal of waste that could be used as fuel. She argued that there had been a number of matters not been properly discussed in the bilateral process.

The Chairperson said that the Committee could not tell the Department that it was wrong and no submission had shown how the Department could be compelled. He said that there had not been ‘a must’ for the Department to conduct themselves in a particular way in terms of the consultation process.  He said that the Chemical and Allied Industries Association would get no sympathy in attempting to delay the process.

Dr Lotter replied that the Chemical and Allied Industries Association had seen that there was ‘a must’ to conduct the process in a different manner but there would be a submission to that effect.  She said that she could see that there would be no sympathy.

Dr Lotter spoke on the issue of 'burning grounds' stating that in terms of new activity the consequences had not been discussed. There needed to be very specialised activity to achieve compliance with the Explosives Act (No. 15 of 2003). She also said that this should not be regulated in a manner in conflict with the Explosives Act and should be removed until requirements of the National Air Quality Framework (NAQF) were complied with.

She argued that the NAQF had not complied with:

- A cost benefit analysis of listing had not been done

- The best available technology was not always recognised

- A technical feasibility study had not been done

- The socio-economic consequences had not been determined

Dr Lotter discussed the way forward. All new activities needed to be removed until requirements of NAQF had been met. Compliance timeframes needed to be reviewed and finalisation of the Notice needed to be done in compliance with the technical process in the NAQF.

Mr Skosana felt that the time frames were a problem. The information had been given in 2010 and now there were objections and it was 2013. He argued that one could not shift the policy period, which was 2020, no matter what time frames were shifted. By that time there needed to be compliance and by that time something needed to be done in terms of the reduction of emissions.

The Chairperson said that there was a need to look into the matter of waste and urged the Department to take note. It was important to regulate people who were disposing of toxic materials. Burn sites needed to be looked into, as explosives on these burn sites were problematic.

Association of Cementitious Material Producers oral submission
Dr Dhiraj Rama, Executive Director, Association of Cementitious Material Producers, presented on international experience saying that the purpose of the Directive was to achieve integrated prevention and control of pollution arising from listed activities and high level of protection of the environment as a whole. It was also to support the legal basis of the Directive, which related to environmental protection and other community objectives, such as the competitiveness of the community’s industry, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

This could be done by providing for a permitting system for industrial installations requiring both operators and regulators to take an integrated, overall look at the polluting and consuming potential of the installation. The integrated approach needed to improve the management and control of industrial processes so as to ensure a high level of protection for the environment as a whole.

His presentation covered a list of definitions (refer to document, page 6).

Dr Rama spoke about inbound raw materials saying that the current standards might result in non-use of some of South Africa's natural limestone resources due to naturally occurring components in the raw materials. The consequence of this was a negative impact on regional mining and industrial objectives. His concern was that international approaches in line with sustainable development principles were compromised. He was also concerned that this was a barrier to implementing the National Development Plan (NDP). He recommended that raw materials-bound emissions be exempt from these emission limit ‘exceedances’, where elevated emissions resulted from conventional fuels or raw materials as established through baseline monitoring, and where an atmospheric impact report modelling the impacts of the specific emission on the nearest receptor did not show unacceptable impacts.

Dr Rama spoke to the compliance time frames saying that intent to have uniformity across sectors had not applied. The special conditions included for the cement sector to address the use of alternate fuels and resources (AFR) did not take into account the fact that, during the policy development process, it was envisaged that the supply chain for access to AFR would be facilitated based on the national waste management strategy. To date, there was no national programme that had facilitated the hierarchy of waste principles to secure access to AFR.

The Minister had only recently approved the waste tyre management plan, for example, and it was still not clear if or when the cement sector would have access to this waste stream. Thus it was important that this matter be dealt with rationally in the context of other strategy development processes being undertaken by the Department of Environment Affairs.

Dr Rama explained that the delay in the cement sector's implementation was because Government's implementation of the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) was not fully focused in giving effect to the hierarchy of waste principles. He spoke to the multiple standards as well as issues of unnecessary monitoring (see slides 13 and 14). 

His recommendations were as follows, in terms of:

Economic impacts:

- Cost of implementing abatement technologies, e.g. could cost up to R150 Million for an old plant to comply with sulphur dioxide standards.

- Building a new plant with latest technology could cost up to R3 billion rand

Imported cement was not produced under a similar regulatory framework and hence posed a threat to local production costs.

- Cement sector was an important player in terms of local economic development (LED) in various regions.

Climate change and sustainable development:

- Optimal uses of mineral resources

The integrated approach was the appropriate balance between environmental benefits (reduction of different pollutant emissions), cross media effects and the money and energy spent.

The Chairperson said the issues raised in the paper were of a technical nature and he asked that Dr Rama look at the paper and see what could be accommodated in terms of policy.

South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) oral submission
Mr Anton Moldan, SAPIA Environmental Adviser, presented on the background. He said that SAPIA supported measures for ambient air quality improvements that were meaningful, reasonable and achievable. The AQA allowed for the management of Air Quality by means of a number of tools listed in the National Framework. He argued that there needed to be a holistic approach to the problem and minimum emissions standards could not be the only tool used. SAPIA had been intimately involved since 2007. It maintained a consistent position adapted to changing regulatory positions. 

There was need for a holistic approach in order to meet the AQA provisions. The AQA standards that needed to be met were with reference to:

- S 9: Setting of Ambient Air Quality Standards.

- S 15: Development of Air Quality Management Plans.

- S 18: Declaration of Priority Areas

- Regulations for implementing & enforcing priority area air quality management plans, including stricter standards.

- S 21: Setting of Minimum Emission Standards

- S 24: Declaration of Controlled Emitters

- S 26: Declaration of Controlled Fuels.

Outstanding concerns were the disconnect between ambient and point source standards. The existing facilities needed to meet new facility standards. The ‘bubble approach’ for managing point source emissions should be dropped. The timeframes for implementation were a concern. Certain unsustainable standards and residual errors and areas needing clarification. For each he outlined the potential consequences and proposals to remedy the situation.

The Chairperson said that the industry needed to go and look at what was feasible if it did want to have a phased approach. There was a need to do this if there was going to be changes in timeframes in order to make the changes that came with becoming feasible. There was a need to for industry to do the work if there was going to be compromise. The onus was on industry. If there were to be innovative new mechanisms to look at which plants needed to be closed then there was a need for the industry to give information.

Mr Moldan went on to speak about the ‘bubble approach’ to managing emissions. He stated that the ‘bubble approach’ combined a number of or all emission sources within a plant and set standard for the overall bubble. The promulgated version adopted this approach, i.e., allowable sulphur dioxide calculated as sum of emissions from combustion, sulphur dioxide recovery units, flares, and catalytic cracking units. The Department, had however, decided to abandon the ‘bubble approach’.

The Chairperson asked what was best practice in terms of the European Union’s legislation, regulations and directives, as Eskom had said that the best practice was the ‘stack approach’.

Mr Moldan replied he was surprised, as he understood that it was the ‘bubble approach’ and recommended that it be adopted.

Mr Moldan said that the timeframe for the standards was a ‘hot potato’ and no one wanted to see it go past 2020.

He spoke to the need to correct errors and for clarifications, stating that certain errors still present in the proposed amendments needed to be addressed. Certain provisions of the legislation required clarification as the current layout/wording in some parts was unclear and made for difficult implementation, e.g. the storage and handling of petroleum products (Sub-category 2.4).

He ended by saying that certain provisions in the legislation relating to oil refining operations would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to comply with. He also said that new legislation, impacting on refinery operations, needed to be coordinated to ensure sustainability of the sector.

The proposal was that an inter-departmental petroleum industry regulatory co-ordination group be established to review and co-ordinate the introduction of new, cross-cutting legislation so as to ensure that the best interests of South Africa were being served.

Mr Moldan said that there was a need for an explanation for standards that had been made more stringent. There was a need for the justification of the setting of standards and it needed to not be a ‘thumb suck’.  He stated that in some cases the standards were higher than those in Europe and this could possibly be reviewed.

The Chairperson countered by saying that those that were lower should also be reviewed. He argued that industry could not have it one way and not the other. There were a number of cases in which the standard was lower in Europe and other countries - should the standards then be raised.

The Chairperson said that there was a need to look at where the standards were higher in places such as Europe and he argued that there needed to be an explanation of why there were standards which were lower.  Both sides needed to be reviewed.

The Chairperson had heard nothing during the hearings that showed beyond a doubt that the time frames needed to be changed. He was not convinced that there would be an extension of the five-year period to bring about another five-year period. There was a great deal of thinking that needed to be done especially in terms of the ‘phased approach’.

The Chairperson said that there was a need to look at the ‘bubble approach’ and ‘stack approaches’ brought forth by SAPIA and Eskom. If an industry were to be made to move from one to the other there would be a great deal to consider. There was a need to think whether it would be better to keep the ‘bubble approach’ and allow some to go to the ‘stack approach’. The way the matter was to happen needed to be considered by those who had technical ‘know how’. It was a policy question.

Dr Huang said there were a number of ways that South Africa was far away from the European Union standard. He argued that SAPIA needed to pay for the upgrades as it was in a ‘big business’ and earned vast amounts of money. Its profits remained the same and the amounts needed to upgrade were minimal in terms of what was earned. He also argued that there was a financial need to upgrade as high technology meant high standards thus there was a need for an upgrade in any case. He was concerned that SAPIA was a ‘big guy talking like he was poor’. He did not believe SAPIA was.

Mr Moldan replied that it was global perception that the oil industry was a ‘big bad industry’ and ‘hugely wealthy’. The margins on running a refinery were much smaller these days. He said that no extra money was made when the oil prices went up; it all went to the government. This needed to be appreciated. Hard decisions needed to be made when it came to issues of clean fuel and other upgrades and some plants might have to close down. South Africa had to ask how to replace that capacity.

Ms Zikalala said there was some confusion in the terminology used. She wanted some clarification.

Ms Wenger said she was trying to marry the presentation of SAPIA and the presentations that had been given by civil society organisations at the same meeting. These organisations had spoken of how the communities were suffering and the refineries were seen as the ‘big bad ogre’. She was trying to find a way of marrying the two.

Mr Moldan replied that he could not really speak to the differences between his presentation and that of the communities. There were opposing viewpoints and it had been said that refineries were not meeting regulations and this was not true.

Ms Wenger asked what changes needed to be made to old plants to make them compliant or if they could even be made compliant. What was the life of a plant?

Mr Moldan replied that it depended on the financial viability of the plant as to how long that plant would ‘live’.  A plant could continue on far past the need for upgrades; however it was dependent on the financial, regulatory and other pressures that spoke to the life of a plant.

Mr Skosana said that the new plants needed to comply with new standards. He wanted to ask SAPIA to speak more on this.

Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) submission
Dr John Scotcher, ForestLore Consulting environmental consultant, representing the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA), presented on the background of PAMSA. He stated that it was formed in 1992 and promoted the interests and efforts of the South African pulp and paper industry. PAMSA had participated with the Department and South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) in the process of the declaration of listed activities and minimum emission standards. PAMSA had commented on the draft set of listed activities and minimum emission standards published in the Government Gazette on 31 March 2010 and again on 23 November 2012 (amendments to the 31 March 2010 Government Gazette)

Dr Scotcher outlined PAMSA's concerns, firstly, the chemical recovery ‘Copeland’ reactors: sub-category 9.3. There were only three in the country). PAMSA had conducted internal workshops and had concluded that it was difficult to measure a hygroscopic (wet) chemical with any accuracy. Alternative technologies were not cost effective. The point source emission monitoring provided variable results and a lack of confidence. Lastly air quality dispersion modelling had provided a realistic approach to demonstrating compliance with ambient air quality standards.

In PAMSA's bilateral meeting with the Department it had been agreed for PAMSA to undertake air quality monitoring and scenario modelling studies for the ‘Copeland’ reactors in South Africa. An independent study had been undertaken by uMoya-NILU Consulting (Pty) Ltd using input variables of 100, 200 and 400mg/Nm3. This had demonstrated that predicted ambient concentrations remained compliant with current and 2015 national ambient standards at all modelled emission concentration.

Another concern was Category 1: Combustion Installations: Sub-category 1.1 - Solid Fuel Combustion Installations. It had been requested that there be a review of this sub-category. He asked why “excluding any solid material that is regarded as waste in terms of the Waste Act” had been included? Biomass might be used as a fuel in Solid Biomass Combustion Installation Sub-category 1.3. There had been no ability to use biomass in conjunction with Solid Fuel Combustion Installation 1.1. It was also recommended that biomass be regarded as waste under definition of waste in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008). Therefore, to burn biomass one needed to move to Sub-category 8.1: Thermal Treatment of General and Hazardous Waste. The consequences of exclusion of biomass from 1.1 and current description of 8.1 were that when co-combustion occurred under this category, then the minimum emission standards of 8.1 must apply. This had not been achieved.  PAMSA requested a sub-category for co-generation for large boilers, together with minimum emission standards for multi-fuel boilers in line with the European regulations.

Other concerns included Thermal Treatment of Hazardous and General Waste. The Department needed to give clarity as to where multi-fuel boilers fitted into the regulations (see also Sub-category 1.1). Special compensation should be given to the pulp and paper business, as was given to the cement industry. Another was Sub-category: 9.1 Lime Kiln Recovery and Sub-category 9.2: Chemical Recovery Furnaces. There was no accepted method to measure hydrogen sulphide from the stacks and none described in the draft regulations. Treated wood sawmills had been included, as were compressed wood products in Category 9.5: Wood burning, Drying and the Production of Manufactured Wood Products under the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (No. 45 of 1965). There was no need to regulate untreated burning or drying of wood in the kiln since particulate emission levels were below detectable levels – independent results had been provided to the Department. The ‘Copeland’ particulate minimum emission standard had been resolved.

There was a need for further interaction on co-generation (multi-fuel boilers); clarification on thermal treatment of hazardous and general waste with regard to co-generation; clarification on the method for hydrogen sulphide monitoring in lime recovery kilns and chemical recovery furnaces and deletion of untreated wood and kilns from the regulations.

The Chairperson said that if there was mechanism to phase them out then that was the day to deal with plants, ‘Copeland’ reactors and the like.

Dr Scotcher replied that the legislation did not permit the reintroduction of the 400 mg in conjunction with the phase-out plan. At that point there were four ‘Copeland’ reactors and by this time there were now three. ‘Copeland’ reactors were now being slowly closed as they had too little capacity for the high volumes that the growing industry needed. 

Ms Tsotetsi asked how had the phasing out of one ‘Copeland’ reactor affected the labour force.

Dr Scotcher replied that 700 people had been retrenched.

The Chairperson said the standards were vitally important as they set the level.  There was a need for an holistic approach as when one went to communities there were problems. However, the industry wanted to get the best situation that it could find for itself. There was advocacy for extreme situations. This was not feasible. This was why he had not been happy with the consultation process as some had been excluded and there had even been accusations of collusion between government and industry. He did not believe that this had happened. What was being done now with this process was to rectify some of the gaps that had appeared. He urged the Department to look at the issues raised and some of the notions and options that had been discussed.  There was a need to create more innovative options. He said that the Department needed to report back by 29 May 2013 on issues raised. If the Department needed more time then it would be best to take it rather than to rush things.

The meeting was adjourned.


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