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Air Quality


Managing Air Quality Compliance

By 1 April 2020, our existing plants in South Africa were required to meet the point source standards applicable to newly commissioned plants. Sasol has already met the prescribed minimum emission standards for 98% of our emissions sources. Details on all the efforts which contributed to this including the achievements for particulate matter ( PMs) NOx, sulphur dioxide (SO2), incinerators and total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) are included, per operations. For the remaining 2%, we have been provided extension on compliance for the remaining sources via postponements granted by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) until 1 April 2025. We are on track with our air quality roadmaps to achieve this milestone for all point sources except for our steam plant operations in Secunda.

During 2020, we applied for further postponement for four additonal sources at our Secunda Operations following the inclusion of these point sources in the Secunda Atmospheric Emissions Licence upon review thereof. These sources require postponement to meet the volatile organic limits contained in the applicable standard. We recently concluded the required public participation and await the decision of the authorities.

We aim to also achieve compliance for these sources by 1 April 2025. We remain resolute in our intent to achieve our commitments and complete our air quality compliance roadmaps in the last stretch of our compliance journey to ensure that our mature plants meet the prescribed standards for newly commissioned plants along the extended compliance timeframes we obtained through lawful postponements by 1 April 2025.

We are advancing the boiler SO2 compliance roadmap for our steam plant operations in Secunda to meet the recently promulgated limit of 1 000 mg/Nm³. Our compliance efforts include the development of coal beneficiation as an abatement option while also assessing alternative pathways linked to our GHG emission reduction strategy. Coal beneficiation has the potential to reduce SO2 emissions to achieve the promulgated standard of 1 000 mg/Nm³. However, due to the magnitude and complexity of the implementation, execution will likely extend beyond 1 April 2025. Coal beneficiation, however, is not aligned to Sasol’s sustainability objectives and long-term vision of moving away from coal. Feasibility work on coal beneficiation continues while we are exploring synergies with GHG reduction initiatives considering Sasol’s long-term ambition to transform our operations to low-carbon options.

In July 2020, we revised and resubmitted our offset implementation plan, which needed to be submitted as a postponement condition to reduce PMs and SO2. The update made provision for changes to our implementation schedule because of restrictions on regulatory activity related to COVID-19.

While we await approval from the DFFE, we remain committed to implementing these plans which have so far resulted in the avoidance of emissions of more than 207 tons of PM10, 194 tons of PM2,5 and 80 tons of SO2 in the surrounding community/airshed.

We also continue to contribute to achieving the goals set out in the Vaal and Highveld priority area improvement plans and have been involved in the recent revision of these plans. All our activities are regulated through a licensing system issued by the authorities in the different geographies where we operate. These licences require that we report frequently on our emissions to authorities as well as the timeous submission of comprehensive annual air quality compliance reports in South Africa.

Air quality offsetting programme

We remain committed to implementing the second phase of our offsetting implementation plan toward 2025, The focus associated with this air quality offsetting programme remains the reduction of particulate matter (PM) and SO2 pollution in the surrounding (fence-line) communities.

The SO air quality offsetting implementation plan also includes a comprehensive education and awareness campaign, which encompasses two components namely the general public campaign and the school awareness campaign. The general campaign involves working with field officers within the communities of eMbalenhle and Lebohang who assume the responsibility to provide education on air quality-related topics, through door-to-door engagement with household members. Overall, twelve sessions focusing on various topics on air pollution and air quality concepts will be implemented as part of the general campaign within the communities of eMbalenhle and Lebohang. To date, eight sessions have been conducted from June 2022 until May 2023. The target number of households for each session of the door-to-door campaign is 5200 at eMbalenhle and 2400 at Lebohang. The impact of the program was bolstered with the publication of these relevant topics, in the local newspapers, in three regional languages.

The school awareness campaign consisted of 26 primary schools within the communities of Govan Mbeki Local Municipality which also participated in an air quality education and awareness campaign in 2022. About 27 060 learners between grades R and seven participated in different activities that included puzzle building, activity books (colouring books), drama, debate, quizzes, and other projects developed by learners. A post-assessment was done from grades 1 to 7 to evaluate the understanding of air quality topics based on their activities. The campaign created a positive impact as learners were introduced to in-depth concepts of air quality that they were not familiar with, and this improved their knowledge. Learners were presented with certificates of participation and each school was given a branded trophy.

SEO’s Offset program also progressed well during the reporting period. Apart from waste removal and grass-cutting activities, which have been conducted during the past seven years, SEO also embarked on the construction of a road within the Zamdela area. This initiative is intended to substantially reduce dust pollution (particulate matter) associated with vehicles travelling on the road. Approximately 1.6 km of the access road has been paved during the latter period of this financial year. The full quantification of the benefits associated with dust emission reduction will be undertaken toward the end of the calendar year 2023.

Moreover, during the reporting year, SEO and Natref cut approximately 4.4 million m2 of grass and removed approximately 1 040 ton of biomass around the Sasolburg area. This resulted in an avoidance of approximately 6.6 tons of PM10, 5.2 tons of PM2.5 and 0.62 tons of SO2 emissions. Similarly, approximately 3 080 tons of waste was removed resulting in approximately 21.27 tons of PM10, 22.5 tons of PM2.5 and 2.95 tons of SO2 emissions being avoided.


Air Quality Abatement Achievements

PMS, NOX, SO2, VOCS and incineration

We are on track with our air quality compliance roadmaps to achieve compliance with the new plant standards in 2025:

  • Installation of low NOx burners on the remaining coal-fired boilers in Secunda and Sasolburg Operations aimed at reducing boiler NOx emissions.
  • Installation of high-frequency controllers on the electrostatic precipitators of the remaining boilers in Secunda and Sasolburg.
  • Installation of abatement equipment at the Synfuels catalytic cracker stack within SO.
  • Streamlining of Sasolburg Operations’ blending facilities to meet the SO2 standard.
  • Installation of VOC abatement equipment at the crude tar tanks within SO.
  • Reduction of hydrocarbon releases from our phenosolvan and depitcher vents.
  • Abatement of hydrocarbon release to atmosphere via the coal tar filtration west stack at Secunda.
  • Finalising the routing of the biosludge from incineration to gasification.
  • Confirming the sustainable alternative method to incineration for the handling of the Sasolburg waste streams.
  • Finalising solution High Organic Water