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Nema stops Kibwezi oil clean-up following licensing row

By Cyrus Ombati | August 4th 2016
A well contaminated with oil in Thange Village, Makueni county. (Photo:File)

The national environmental watchdog has stopped the ongoing clean-up of an oil spill in Kibwezi due to a licensing dispute.

The decision by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) puts on the spot the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and a firm contracted for the multi-million shilling exercise. Nema boss Geofrey Wahungu said the firm contracted to do the job was not licensed.

"You are therefore required to stop further clean-up at the site immediately until you comply with the law," the order addressed to KPC Managing Director Joe Sang read in part.

On July 15, Mr Sang reported that 18,000l of oil from the spill had been recovered and "re-injected back into the pipeline".

Nema said Enviroserv Kenya Ltd was not licensed and was conducting the clean-up in contravention of the Waste Management Regulation 2006.

Prof Wahungu said he initially wrote to KPC on June 21, 2016, but "to date you or your agent have not submitted any evidence towards compliance".

Nema had adviced KPC to engage a licensed waste handler.

The Waste Management Regulation 2006 Part II states that "any person whose activities generate waste has an obligation to ensure that such waste is transferred to a person who is licensed to transport and dispose of such waste in a designated waste disposal facility."

Enviroserv Kenya Limited, KPC had explained, was a subsidiary of Enviroserv Waste Management, an international waste management company.

KPC further explained that weathermen had predicted the onset of El Nino rains towards the end of 2015 and in light of such predictions, it would have been negligent had it not taken immediate measures to remedy the problem "in the interests of the public and the overriding need to secure the environment for wider benefit and interest of the people of Makueni County".

KPC explained in the statement that Enviroserv had the blessings of the State and "was at liberty to continue with the clean-up uninterrupted for the common good of the people of Makueni".

Wahungu's order requires KPC and the contracted company to cease working immediately.

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