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Panic after massive oil spill at Mombasa beach

By By Philip Mwakio | Published Thu, January 31st 2013 at 00:00, Updated January 31st 2013 at 11:12 GMT +3

By Philip Mwakio

MOMBASA, KENYA: A massive oil spill at a popular beach on Mombasa Island has caused panic among conservation experts and marine officials.

Although the origin of the spill is yet to be established, it is suspected it may have been as a result of a leakage from a ship or illegal siphoning from one of the vessels anchored at sea.

By Wednesday afternoon, there was no official confirmation of the extent of the spillage, although fishermen said the layer of oil stretched for close to 200 metres along the beach and into sea.

When The Standard visited the scene at midday  Wednesday, no efforts had commenced to skim off the oil, which is said to have spilled on Monday.

KPA anti-pollution team and the Oil Spill Mutual Aid Group had, however, arrived at the scene and were conducting site surveys.

No-go zone

The Madhubaha beach, which is popular recreation spot for swimmers and fitness enthusiasts, was early Wednesday a no-go zone after the water was polluted.

Over 500 swimmers throng the beach located near Allidina Visram School each day to swim.

According to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) General Manager, Operations, Khamis Twalib, the long-term effect of the spill could be detrimental to the humans and marine life.

Capt Twalib said it was not possible to ascertain the extent of the spillage as some of the oil had been dispersed by waves.

unravel the mystery

“We shall take samples of the oil whose traces dot the beaches around Madhubaha and try to establish the origin,” said Twalib, who was accompanied by Mombasa County National Environment Management Authority (Nema) Enforcement Officer Benson Wemali.

On his part, Mr Wemali said Nema would work closely with Kenya Maritime Authority, Marine Police and KPA to try and unravel the mystery over the oil spillage.

An eyewitness, Herbert Yaa, who is also a regular beach user said cases of oil siphoning were rampantat the beach.