Monday, October 20, 2008

Air quality monitored closer


16 October 2008

Air quality monitored closer, Minister says

New steps to improve the quality of air in the province are being put
in place by the Western Cape Provincial Government.

Minister Pierre Uys, provincial minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has today launched a special station in Vredenburg to continuously and scientifically monitor the quality of ambient air in the Saldanha Bay area for a full year. The data will be used to better understand air quality in the area.

Minister Pierre Uys (centre) with Hans Linde, Deputy Director: Air Quality Management, and Gottlieb Arendse, Director: Pollution and Waste Management

This is one of three stations the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has bought to monitor the quality of air and check on specific pollutants over the next five years in strategically identified areas with municipalities.

The roll-out of the air quality management system is an initiative of the Western Cape Government in the interest of the environment and health. The station monitors the critical gaseous pollutants, particulate matter and relevant meteorological data.

The decision to locate the station here was jointly taken between thelocal and provincial authorities due to perceptions of the air in the West Coast district and in particular the Saldanha Bay area. In cooperation with the West Coast District Municipality, this monitoring station has been located at the Hoƫrskool Vredenburg (high school).

This unit now forms part of the provincial monitoring system with stations also in Paarl and in Mossel Bay. Over the next five years the stations will be relocated to other points every year.

Minister Uys says: "Every person has a right to clean air and with the launching of this station the Provincial Government is striving to better understand the quality of the air and reinforces its commitment and obligations with respect to the air quality management across the province."

"The Saldanha Bay and West Coast District Municipal area is a development node. It is therefore important that we as authorities, together with the industries, accept our responsibilities with respect to air quality. We look forward to sharing the information with each other and collectively come to a better understanding of the air quality in this particular area."

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) +27 73 133 7299
Minister Uys +27 82 4555 144


To fulfill the Provincial Government's obligation in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, the Province has purchased the necessary equipment to set up three (3) fully equipped continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations. To assist with the evaluation of air quality, these monitors will be strategically deployed across the Province on rotational basis over a five (5) year period. Each station will be located at a selected site for a one-year period to ensure that all the seasons are covered.

On 11 September 2007, DEAT published the National Framework for Air Quality Management for the Republic of South Africa. Importantly, this Framework includes a table to guide the Municipalities with respect to the quality of ambient air within their areas of jurisdiction. The said framework rates the air quality in the West Coast District Municipality, City of Cape Town and the Winelands District Municipality areas as POOR and the Eden District Municipality as POTENTIALLY POOR.

The monitoring station is comprised of an air-conditioned housing unit mounted on a chassis with wheels to be transportable. The unit is equipped with continuous analyzers for the monitoring of the critical pollutants, Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Ozone (O3) and Particulate Matter (PM10). Importantly, the unit is complimented with a 9-metre high mask with a full range of instruments to monitor meteorological parameters, wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity.

The monitors will be regularly calibrated and will be operated according to laid down accredited procedures. This all makes for a sound air quality monitoring program of the so-called critical pollutants and with the necessary additional weather data capturing system this will ensure scientific analysis of information that is recorded.

The monitoring of air quality over a period will place the Province in the position to assist the municipalities with evaluating the state of the environment with respect to air quality and to build its capacity in ambient air quality monitoring. This monitoring station will contribute and augment the monitoring systems currently in operation by the private sector and other monitoring programmes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Prepare for climate change

Prepare for climate change, Minister urges

Minister Pierre Uys, minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has launched a special curriculum tool for teachers to assist them in dealing with climate change.

The training of a core group of teachers from across the province on the Climate Change Education and Awareness Programme started today at the Northlink College in Panorama, Cape Town, and will continue until Saturday. The programme and a teacher*s resource book were developed by the University of Cape Town*s Schools Development Unit.

Minister Uys (second from left, second row from front) with Western Cape Teachers that attended the programme

Climate change and environmental issues will form part of the school curriculum from next year and this pilot project by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning were undertaken to help teachers deal with the issues around climate change and awareness.

Minister Uys opened the three day workshop this morning.

"There is overwhelming consensus amongst experts that climate change has been accelerated through human endeavour and that extraordinary preparations are needed to ward off serious consequences. It is for this reason we have decided as Government to train and prepare our people for life style changes to mitigate matters like global warming and dependence on fossil fuel that is a key cause of the emission of greenhouse gasses", Minister Uys said.

"Even with the significant reduction of these gasses, there will still be changes to the climate."

"That this why emissions need to be contained or reduced. It is projected that temperature or extreme weather conditions, water shortages, more fires and adverse agricultural conditions will be some of the challenges we will face in the future. Therefore we start this seeding project in line with national and provincial policies to prepare our future citizens and leaders for the task at hand", Minister Uys said.

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144

Make coast safer for whales and all life

Minister Pierre Uys, minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has called on all people to assist in the battle to keep the water off our coast free from plastic debris that harm all kinds of marine life, including the gentle giants of the deep, whales.

Minister Uys's plea coincides with the highlight of the whale season and the annual Whale Festival in Hermanus as well as the coastal and marine programmes of his department.

Too many whales are still getting caught up in all kinds of debris along our coast line. Some animals also die because they may digest drifting plastic as it may be seen as food. All efforts should be made to make our coast safer for our visiting whale friends and all other life forms.

A perpetual problem with undesirable debris exists. Many of our people's daily activities, from not properly disposing of garbage or even littering, can impact on the plants and animals along our shores.

"The debris, like scattered fragments, packaging material, crayfish traps, broken nets, ropes or lines and drift wreckages, consist mainly of plastic that can harm or kill organisms. Solving our water pollution requires everyone's involvement," Minister Uys said.
The Coastal Management team of the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in partnership with District Municipalities last week was involved with beach clean-ups (15 to 19 September 2008).

Various schools and learners helped cleaning up polluted areas along the extensive Cape coast line in order to increase public awareness and appreciation of the coastal environment.

"My Government and I thank every citizen and volunteer who help unselfishly to make our coast a safer area for all to use," Minister Uys said.

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144