Regulating sulphur dioxide emissions from platinum smelters in South Africa
Air pollution is a major cause of mortality and morbidity globally. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission is regulated because of its detrimental effects on health and the environment. More stringent SO2 emission limits will be enforced from 01 April 2020. This study aimed to evaluate the regulation of SO2 emissions from platinum smelters in South Africa. The following objectives assisted in achieving the research aim: • Understand the regulatory strategy to manage SO2 emissions from platinum smelters. • Assess ambient SO2 levels in the Rustenburg region. • Determine the contribution of platinum smelters to ambient SO2 levels in the Rustenburg region. To address these objectives, a literature review of SO2 regulation was conducted. An air dispersion model was applied to assess ambient air SO2 levels in the Rustenburg region and the impacts of platinum smelters on ambient air quality in the region were modelled. The current environmental management approach focuses on command and control. All plants in the same industry must comply with more stringent emission standards that come into force on 01 April 2020. At most, the SO2 10-minute average national standard was exceeded 23 times compared with the allowable 526 times, the SO2 1-hour average national standard was exceeded 16 times compared with the allowable 88 times and the SO2 24-hour average national standard was exceeded twice compared with the allowable 4 times. Ambient SO2 levels in the Rustenburg region are within the allowable standards and platinum smelters are the major source of SO2 in the area. In the spirit of the National Environmental Management Act (Act no. 107 of 1998), which promotes participation of interested parties in environmental governance, application of a hybrid approach including other management strategies, such as public disclosure and air quality offsets, is recommended. This should increase economic viability and realise social and environmental sustainability.