High ash emissions from the Lethabo power station in the Vaal Triangle due to conveyer belt failure was not caused by a lack of maintenance, Eskom said on Thursday.
“It is an operational matter rather than a lack of maintenance,” spokesman Andrew Etzinger said. “The power station is an old power station so the infrastructure does need a lot of maintenance.”
The Times reported earlier on Thursday that the power station, which contributes about 10% of the national power grid’s energy, was “buried beneath tons of ash”.
A Lethabo insider told the newspaper: “It is a disaster. The plant is falling apart. Months ago they were told it is dire. Warnings were ignored.”
The source said two power generating units had tripped on Saturday because ash from the hoppers could not be emptied quickly enough.
The daily reported that a cloud of ash was blowing over surrounding areas, resulting in an increase in people reporting respiratory problems.
Etzinger admitted that the level of ash emissions from the power station was higher than normal.
“We do apologise to residents and businesses in the area who would be affected. We are working to address the problem as soon as possible.”
Eskom was switching off operations at Lethabo during non-peak times to limit ash emissions and comply with legislation.
“We’re trying to balance the system, with the pressure on the grid on the one hand, and limit emissions on the other hand,” he said. — Sapa