Tag Archive | portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs

NEMA: Waste Bill passed

NEMA Waste Bill to have monitoring body….

wasteThe National Environmental Management Act (NEMA); Waste Amendment Bill was again debated by the portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs who were struggling for some time with a definition of the word “waste”after the final hearings had been conducted and submissions heard. The Bill was subsequently passed to the NCOP for concurrence.

Whilst the definitions of non hazardous and non hazardous waste; medical waste and pollution matters seem clearly defined under other sections of the NEMA, the noun “waste” as a subject matter has led to all kinds of interpretation, the matter being further complicated, chairperson Adv. “Johnnie” de Lange said, by industry only declaring matter as waste when it decided to do so.

This agency will be different

He said he was aware that government had appointed too many agencies with boards that were simply eating up taxes and were staffed by those who did not understand the particular subject for which they were formed. He was determined that this would not be the case with this Bill.

He said that an agency such as was planned in terms of the Bill before them had to be staffed by persons who knew their subject and appointments had to be made “without any public servant just picked to fill a place”.    He said that the control, eradication and disposal of waste matter had become a serious matter in South Africa and was affecting the lives of many persons, most of them poor.

Transnet in their submission also pointed to the fact that confusion would follow the present loose wording which was “any substance, whether that substance can be reduced, reused and recovered”.   The issues of by-products however, was more easily resolved by being able to name them.

CSIR weighs in

Dr Susan Oelofse of CSIR submitted a full paper, CSIR having been invoked in the original discourse on the formation of the Bill, re-confirmed its absolute necessity for the Bill in general terms but also said that it was not possible to reuse and recover waste if the possibility of its recovery was within the same definition.

In their submission, CSIR they stated that the formation of an agency to control waste was not publicly discussed with them, or anybody, beforehand and needed to be.

Without public input, they said, it’s formation might be stunted and in any case their powers should be limited to approval, monitoring and auditing only.   Dr Oelefse’s criticisms of the wording of the Bill on the subject of a waste agency were extensive but she seem somewhat mollified with the promise that the public at large would be consulted and that experts would be appointed.

Abuse with waste to be stopped

Adv. de Lange agreed that the committee had to “get this one right because the penalties were going to be huge” and the major abusers had to be “stopped in their tracks”.

Parliament subsequently summed up all the hearings in a report.   The department has commented giving their views and the committee has now debated issues. From the dates given by Adv, de Lange, the Bill was apparently to be “fast tracked” and has now been passed through the NCOP with concurrence and the Bill passed to the President to become law.

Earlier articles on this subject:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/environmental-affairs-speed-things-up-with-seas/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//mining-beneficiation/tougher-rules-ensvisaged-with-new-environmental-law/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/fueloilrenewables/fracking-moves-november-says-minister-davies/

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Environmental pace hots up

Johannesburg first with environmental “green scorpions”…….

green scorpionThe City of Johannesburg has trained nine environmental management inspectors (EMIs), known as ‘green scorpions’, to ensure compliance with the city’s environmental bylaws.

Launching its Environmental Management Inspectorate made up of such persons, it was explained that this was part of the implementation of a memorandum of agreement between the city and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in accordance with the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).

Parliament passing more new laws

As far as NEMA is concerned, the portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs under Adv, “Johnnie” de Lange and the select committees in the NCOP are finalising a raft of new environmental laws to be followed by new regulations in the form of  the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, the: National Environmental Management Air Quality Amendment Bill, the National  Environmental Management Integrated Coastal Management Bill and the National Environmental Management Amnendment Waste Bill.

green scorpion logoIn Gauteng, the Green Scorpions will have distinctive uniforms and would, would carry official identity cards to identify themselves on official business. MMC for environment, infrastructure and services, Matshidiso Mfikoe, said that this “would ensure that Johannesburg had “none of the no-go areas created through dumping or the harbouring of dangerous substances and animals.”

She added that the safety of the people of Johannesburg could only be guaranteed when the policies of government were implemented. “This is just the beginning”, she said. “As the inspectors are taking on their responsibilities in the field, the city plans to train more to strengthen the inspectorate to give it more teeth, while creating a safe and healthy environment for ourselves and future generations”.
Previous articles on this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//mining-beneficiation/tougher-rules-ensvisaged-with-new-environmental-law/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/new-air-quality-act-to-deal-with-major-polluters/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//health/air-quality-management-framework-bill-to-be-tabled-2/

 

 

Posted in Earlier Stories, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn0 Comments

Green Paper on nautical limits to make SA oceanic nation

SA to extend its nautical limits…

South Africa’s claim to resources from the sea bed currently extends some 400 nautical miles but with claims by government now submitted to international authorities, this could well run to 700 nautical miles, adding nearly two million square kilometers to South Africa’s “continental shelf”, making the country a nautical and oceanic resource nation of some consequence.

This fact emerged in Parliament recently on the tabling of a Green Paper on the subject but the warning was added by Adv. “Johnny” de Lange that at the same time South Africa must find the resources, both in skills and finance, to administer a “national data base” of resources, weather, oceanic data such as currents and tides, fishing factors and maritime general information that was available to and contributed to by all sectors of government and industry to manage such an additional load .

More environmental changes

With only four submissions to Parliament emanating from the public, department of water and environmental affairs (DWEA) specialist in monitoring, Ashley Naidoo, briefed the parliamentary committee on water and environmental affairs on the new Green Paper on a future South African policy framework falling under the National Environmental Management Act for the management of ocean sectors.

Primarily motivated by the enormous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the fact that issues like liabilities and the basis for governance of the oceans are still outstanding, DWEA said it has been motivated of late to engage urgently in policy regarding the management of the ocean sector generically, a policy which will be developed shortly and submitted to cabinet as a White Paper.

Other countries

The process, said Naidoo, involves studying the policies of about twelve other countries, such as Norway, Korea, Brazil and Russia which already had frameworks in place whilst including in their deliberations the USA and the United Kingdom who are developing theirs.

Involved also as an ongoing process is a review of sectoral stakeholders, such as mining, fishing and gas exploration; a review of international agreements across all departments that South Africa is subject to; and, finally, shipping policies.

Most important would be the development of a national inter-departmental data base for all to consult with and a regulatory base on which to consider activity applications.  South differed from most nations, Naidoo said, in that 95% of its oceans in the continental area of South Africa were pristine and benefited also from strong currents. South Africa was lucky in this regard, he said.

Fishing, oil, shipping involved

It was noted, Naidoo told parliamentarians, that  whilst each sector, such as the fishing, the oil industry in its many aspects and merchant shipping all had their own conventions and agreements, it was time for SA to develop its own overall policy framework to which all could refer to and fall under.

“Whilst there was a good knowledge base on fishing and on the currents and climate factors, we have very little knowledge on what minerals and where they are located and also pharmaceutical resources”, said Naidoo.

Present situation

The current position, he said, was that South Africa had a line representing a 400 nautical mile ownership on waters adjacent to its coastline; a line which was mapped and fixed. At present, South Africa was negotiating a claim through the relevant international bodies for an 1,800,000 sq kilometers additional ownership over the next five years in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, which would classify South Africa as an “ocean” country of some significance.

Naidoo said that there were some 15,000 ships passing through our waters a year with about 9,000 ships calling at SA ports.   “We have few competitors in the Southern Oceans wanting to gain space, although there are existing zones “owned’ by countries and South Africa will have to learn to live with some of its new oceanic neighbours, such as Norway.

Looking ahead

Naidoo said that with 70% of the globe being covered by water, climatic effects are the major issue affecting the oceanic eco-system at present and consequently there is a need to build on general environmental governance principles in order to handle governance on the high seas.   Provisions had to be made for sea trade; fish and fishing; minerals, pharmaceuticals, sewage and waste disposal.

Also, he said, regulation had to cover environmental issues, climate response, weather matters and the recycling of carbon and nitrogen and heat issues.  Support had to be provided for niche projects on bio-diversity such as mangrove development and delta management and cultural aspects had to be considered. All this would be found in the White Paper.

Naidoo outlined the guiding principles and strategic objectives, Adv. De Lange chairperson the portfolio committee concerned, emphasising that the priority in his view was a national data base across all departments which had to be costed in properly so that Treasury was involved, otherwise regulation of the high seas managed as a national policy would just be a “pipe dream”.

“Government was designing too many policies and not enough working systems and the time has come to deliver”, he said.

Mossel Bay objection

Of the submissions presented orally, notable was the submission from REVAG, an environmental group from Mossel Bay, vehemently objecting to the PetroSA LNG tanker depot and unloading facilities moored offshore within a few hundred metres of the coast at Pinnacle Point, next to Mossel Bay.

REVAG said that they could not wait for such a Bill as envisaged by the Green Paper and called for a moratorium on the PetroSA LNG activities at Mossel Bay and an immediate halting of such operations.

REVAG said that PetroSA’s first application in the form of a land-based EIA to undertake this project was withdrawn in the light of objections initially but it is understood that such an application has now been re-submitted. REVAG said that the projects would be an environmental disaster of major proportions for the area from many aspects.

Adv. De Lange said how surprised he was that only four submissions from the public on the Green Paper had been received by Parliament.
Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/integrated-energy-plan-iep-is-not-crystal-ball-gazing-says-doe/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/better-year-for-petrosa-with-offshore-gas-potential/

Posted in Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

New Air Quality Act will deal with major polluters

Three areas under focus…

emissionsIn terms of who is in trouble in terms of the newly proposed Air Quality Act amendments, the chief director, air quality management at the department of environmental affairs (DEA), told parliamentarians that there were three priority areas that had been identified in South Africa where ambient standards are being exceeded.

These are the Vaal Triangle airshed, which could be said to be Orange Farm south to Sasolburg; the Highveld area, roughly Witbank south to Ermelo and back up to Delmas; and the Waterberg-Bonjala area which is essentially Brits through to Limpopo. The minister believes that that these areas, said Dr Mduli, should be “declared” as such in terms of the law, as soon as possible.   In the case of the Waterberg-Bonjala area, it was more a case of what was being planned for the area, than what existed at the moment, she said.

de Lange gets tough

Adv. de Lange, chair of the water and environmental portfolio committee, who were being briefed on current developments under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, asked why Durban South was not a priority area in terms of DEA’s estimations.   Dr Mduli replied that recent improvements in ambient air quality in that area had shown that it need not be rated as such.

The main sources of pollution in the three priority areas were emissions from industrial complexes; the domestic burning of dirty fuels in highly populated areas; mining operations; and vehicle emissions, she said.

Hotspots named

She named the industrial “hotspots” as the Vaal Triangle area, this being Sasolburg, Vereeninging, Vanderbijlpark, Meyerton, Orange Farm and Soweto. Also, the Highveld, which mainly suffered from SO2 (sulphur dioxide) problems, this being the generalised Ekurhuleni area, Delmas, the eMalaheni area and Witbank, the Govan Mbeki area and Secunda, the Steve Tshwete area and Middeburg, the Msukaliqwa area and Ermelo and the Lekwa area which took in Standerton.

PM10 problems (heavy dust particles) existed in Ekurhuleni, Witbank, Secunda and Ermelo, she told parliamentarians, but in general terms the department was establishing a national air quality indicator where, by using the 45 monitoring stations that existed in South Africa, there was a possibility of establishing a “constant” that could be evaluated against comparison.

Getting together

Dr. Mduli said that it was not just a question of penalising pollutants that, in many cases, were providing valuable jobs.  It was more a case of working with the industries involved to provide answers. An example, she said, was Engen in Durban South, where a compromise had been found between saving jobs and achieving an outcome which resulted in better ambient air quality.

The issue of offsets to business as incentives, either as tax or other credits, was raised by parliamentarians as a benefit for results achieved with improved ambient air qualities for their “airsheds” but Dr Mduli said whilst these might apply to industry where there were routes to follow, the answer had yet to be found how to apply incentives to communities where traditional fuels producing carbon emissions in highly densely populated areas were the problem.

Community answers

Insofar as industry incentives were concerned, she felt that offsets were not so much a problem and which no doubt were to be considered but in the case of communities, where just individuals were concerned, a lot of the problems would be solved with simple electrification being applied as the answer, as distinct from coal or wood burning. As a result of all this, DEA monitoring stations tended to be located in highly populated areas in order to measure results, rather than emissions.

Dr. Mduli said that for this reason, so DEA could understand better the effects on communities, monitoring was on results, not on emissions, as mostly the bigger particles were in fact the biggest contributor to poor health amongst communities. “Command and control systems by regulation as conducted with industry cannot be used here”, she said and “community persuasive systems had to be envisaged”, she added.

Added to this was the winter atmospheric inversion problem on the Highveld, which tended to trap bigger particles on a long-term basis and contributed to health problems.

Eskom again in the picture

It was noted by Dr Mduli, in displaying graphs, that SO2 played a large part in the national industrial emissions problem and Eskom were the certainly the greatest polluter in this regard, she said. But offsets would not help here, she said as Eskom had other financial priorities, although electrification of townships and all rural areas were amongst Eskom targets to fight the problem of pollution.

In describing the new regulations to follow from the Air Quality Act amendments, she said a number of events would follow in the next few months. Firstly, section 21 of the Act required a list of activities to be published and which had been attended to, the control of which would define the associated regulations necessary to finalise environmental emission standards as an answer to the climate response issue.

The rest of the proposals…

Secondly, section 22 and onwards would include a declaration of control of processes and which was constantly under revision; for example, even the control of declaring mobile asphalt plants might be considered, she said.

Section 29 and following sections involved the definition of greenhouse gasses as pollutants as defined internationally and requirements that followed from global agreements. Then followed clauses which would allow regulations on a “hands on” basis, bringing controls and regulations down to a localised basis, such as sugar cane burning in KwaZulu Natal.

Get a big fish

Adv. de Lange concluded that DEA, in his summing up of the new amendments, had “done well” and he noted “his surprise” at the advanced stage of air quality controls in the country and successes to date. He stated, however, “that what was needed now was a legal success in a major test case against a large industry polluter to show that DEA meant business”.

It was noted in the presentations that Cape Town in general had dropped as far as excessive quality emissions were concerned but that Goodwood, as a residential area had suffered particularly insofar as SO2 was concerned and this had to be investigated. Other issues that concerned DEA on air quality emissions was that mercury readings in emissions were gaining ground, mainly in coal producing areas.

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Parliament briefed on new climate response policy

climatechange2DEA outlines its climate response plans…..

Ms Judy Beaumont, deputy director-general for climate change in the department of environmental affairs (DEA), has told parliamentarians that the objectives of the national climate response policy were to manage inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that built resilience and emergency response capacity and to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilize green house gas (GHG) concentrations.

The department has made a number of presentations to parliamentary portfolio committees in recent weeks updating members on a six-month basis following the public hearings in June of this year resulting from the introduction of the White Paper on National Climate Change.

What can be done, says DEA

Ms Beaumont set out DEA’s current position, resulting in a National Climate Change Response Policy.  She said that her department has developed and detailed what the department calls “deliverables”.

She gave details of the plans to implement the programmes being run currently and the process being used to effect the general response policy which she described as “mitigation, adaptation and monitoring”. She also described DEA’s relationships with other government departments regarding their climate mitigation programmes and with national treasury regarding finance.

All in the same direction

Beaumont said that what had come out of the hearings was the need for a common set of climate scenarios and likely impact scenarios and it was necessary to build in a system of monitoring the situation as it developed so that all knew exactly on an ongoing basis what the picture was and how climate change was affecting the country, both economically and from a disaster aspect.

The major mitigation programmes to reduce carbon emissions needed to have a common set of desired outcomes so all knew what the target was, she said, and all the “flagship” climate change programmes being run in various parts of the country had to be in harmony with common criteria established under the response document, she noted.

Carbon budgets to follow

She said once the desired emission reduction outcomes (DEROs) had been defined then  carbon budgets were to be drawn up for relevant economic sectors.

Various departmental officials detailed some of the current issues under focus, one being a draft of South Africa’s monitoring and evaluation system framework by October 2013, followed by the report on the same subject to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by December 2014.

Some of the adaptation programmes on climate change were the dept. of agriculture’s land care plans; sectoral agro and agro industry programmes; an atlas on climate change and much research.  From the department of water affairs there was water conservation and demand management and from the South African weather service came a flow of forecasting, early warning and research, coupled with work through the national disaster management sector.

All headed towards agreed responses actions

She added that an important contributor with programmes linked to others was the department of cooperative governance where there was “mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction planning in progress with response toolkits”.  DEA had established, Ms Beaumont said, “that there should be a common set of climate scenarios, impact scenarios in key sectors and a need to assess costs and agree adaptation responses per sector.”

Into the entire process. DEA said, account had to be taken of the energy efficiency strategy being prepared by the department of energy, its integrated energy plan and the renewable energy independent power producer programme.

Scenario planning in three stages

On scenario planning, parliamentarians were told that the intention was to “project and evaluate the socio-economic and environmental implications of potential impacts of anticipated climate change and climate variability and the adaptation responses options available” for identified sectors in South Africa over the next decade and until 2025; in the medium for the next two to three decades until 2050 and with long term scenario visualisation to the end of the century.

The shorter term scenarios were already in progress and due for completion and funding had come from the German development organisation, GIZ, to conduct phase one of the long-term scenarios, where initial work had been undertaken.

Links with the national committee on climate change and all such scenario planning was in place, the committee was told.

Carbon Tax still  an imponderable

In answer to questions, DEA said that on carbon tax and a “carbon budget interface” an analysis of the different policy approaches and interfaces between the carbon budget and carbon tax instruments was currently underway. In funding much of the climate change response work in South Africa, parliamentarians were told, national treasury were leading the debate on this, if indeed there was to be a carbon tax, and were to finalise any carbon tax policy for national debate to counter the rise in GHGs.

A tax rate of R75 per tonne of CO2, rising to approximately R200 per tonne over time had been suggested “to save South Africa from potential catastrophic changes in its climate”  but as one parliamentarian told DEA, with global recession hitting business and industry to the extent it has, now and into the same scenario future, it has become doubtful who is the most threatened party.

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