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Kenya Pipeline Company probes extent of Kibwezi oil spill

EASTERN
By Lonah Kibet | November 10th 2015
A man shows a section of oil spillage in Thange village in Kibwezi, Makueni County.

A report on the extent of the damage caused by the petroleum spill in Kibwezi, Makueni County is expected to be ready in two weeks time.

Kenya Pipeline Company acting Managing Director Florah Okoth said an Environmental Site Assessment of the area would assist to ascertain the migration and pathways of the oil spill and the extent of contamination.

The assessment, being done by Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) Kenya Ltd, would form the basis of a comprehensive cleanup and restoration exercise.

"SGS is also required to enhance the remediation process through further product recovery and decontamination of the affected areas. After decontamination, qualitative sampling will be carried out to provide independent assurance of the effectiveness of the process," said Ms Okoth during a press briefing yesterday.

Kibwezi residents recently staged a protest over the spillage, which they said has affected their health and that of their animals. Plants are also seen to have been affected by the soil contamination.

Confirming that the spillage which took place in May has had an adverse impact, Okoth said the company is awaiting the scientific results on the actual damage.

KPC said the pipeline leakage was reported on May 12 and emergency teams were immediately mobilised to the site to contain and recover any of the spilt petroleum products and carry out repairs.

After what the company thought had been a successful repair, an area resident reported that there were petroleum products in Thange River.

Okoth said an emergency response team was sent to the site to establish the source of the product in the river, which was later confirmed to be from the old leakage which had been repaired.

"It has since been established that petroleum products that spilled in May had percolated underground, and due to the porous nature of the rock and soil formation in the area, the oil spread way from the immediate vicinity of the line," she said.

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