Civil so­ci­ety turns up the heat on Sa­sol

Ac­tivists tell fuel gi­ant to ad­dress con­cerns over unchecked pol­lu­tion as well as fa­tal­i­ties in SA and Mozam­bique

Pretoria News - - NEWS - DI­NEO FAKU di­[email protected]

CIVIL so­ci­ety and share­holder ac­tivists turned up the heat on petro­chem­i­cals gi­ant Sa­sol on Fri­day call­ing for the com­pany to ad­dress their con­cerns of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, gas emis­sions and fa­tal­i­ties in South Africa and Mozam­bique.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of six non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions told the com­pany’s top brass at the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing (AGM) held in Sand­ton, Joburg that ag­grieved com­mu­ni­ties wanted the com­pany to in­ter­vene in pol­lu­tion in the Vaal River, “dirty air” on the Highveld and fa­tal­i­ties of em­ploy­ees.

Tracey Davies, an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Just Share, an NGO that seeks to chal­lenge com­pa­nies to be­come good cor­po­rate cit­i­zens, was at the meet­ing to give vent to con­cerns about air pol­lu­tion.

“The bot­tom line is that Sa­sol has a huge en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print.

“We wanted to raise con­cerns about its (Sa­sol’s) con­tri­bu­tion to cli­mate change in South Africa and Mozam­bique as well as fa­tal­i­ties,” said Davies.

She how­ever added that civil so­ci­ety could not act alone.

A damn­ing re­port by the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­men­tal Rights, ground­Work and the Highveld En­vi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Net­work, which was re­leased last year, found that some Highveld res­i­dents had been di­ag­nosed as suf­fer­ing from res­pi­ra­tory and car­diac ill­nesses be­cause of the gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial non-en­force­ment of min­i­mum emis­sion stan­dards for Eskom and Sa­sol.

Davies said com­mu­ni­ties wanted the com­pany to come up with tan­gi­ble so­lu­tions to re­duce its emis­sions to ac­cept­able stan­dards.

She charged that the Se­cunda fa­cil­ity was one of the world’s sin­gle largest sources of green­house gas emis­sions.

She also said com­mu­ni­ties wanted the com­pany to ac­count for the re­duc­tion of its fi­nan­cial pro­vi­sion for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion by R1.4 bil­lion this year, which the com­pany said was due to “macro-eco­nomic” changes.

In light of the fa­tal­i­ties, share­holder ac­tivist Theo Botha called for the re­mu­ner­a­tion of di­rec­tors to be cut amid con­tin­u­ing fa­tal­i­ties.

Botha said Sa­sol was not do­ing enough to ad­dress fa­tal­i­ties, with the com­pany re­port­ing that four em­ploy­ees had died in work ac­ci­dents this year com­pared with the six killed last year.

Botha urged Sa­sol to in­crease its key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tor for safety to 10 per­cent from the cur­rent 5 per­cent.

“We have to hold man­age­ment to ac­count.

“At the end of the day, if their bonus is smaller they will have to work on en­sur­ing that fa­tal­i­ties are re­duced to zero,” he said.

Just Share, the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­men­tal Rights, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion and law clinic, the Vaal En­vi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Al­liance, ground­Work, South Dur­ban Com­mu­nity En­vi­ron­men­tal Al­liance and Jus­tica Am­bi­en­tal, a mem­ber of Friends of the Earth In­ter­na­tional based in Mozam­bique, at­tended the AGM.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of civil so­ci­ety also blamed Sa­sol for bleed­ing Mozam­bique by em­ploy­ing only 300 Mozam­bi­cans at the op­er­a­tions in that coun­try.

Mean­while, Sa­sol is in the mid­dle of an em­pow­er­ment storm, with trade union Sol­i­dar­ity strik­ing over the com­pany’s em­pow­er­ment scheme.

SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI African News Agency (ANA)

SA­SOL’S of­fices in Sand­ton, north of Joburg. Ac­tivists have urged the petro­chem­i­cal firm to ad­dress con­cerns over en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion and fa­tal­i­ties at its plants in South Africa and Mozam­bique. |

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