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Oil spill is a huge disaster, Senate team says, calls for compensation of Makueni residents

NAIROBI
By Philip Muasya | November 22nd 2015

The Senate Committee on Energy has called for medical screening of primary and secondary school students in Thange area of Makueni County for possible poisoning following a massive oil spill.

The committee chaired by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi (Baringo) visited six villages in Thange location in Kibwezi East on Thursday.

The senators, among them David Musila (Kitui), Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) and Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) also toured River Thange as well as the schools.

A pipeline managed by Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) burst and leaked its contents for months undetected, thus polluting the river and the surrounding environment.

The senators described the pollution in the area, including in farms and wells, as “a huge environmental disaster”.

“We are shocked by the level of contamination of water sources. As a committee we take this very seriously and we will work with all stakeholders to arrive at a lasting solution,” Senator Moi said.

He added that independent assessors would be commissioned to evaluate the extent of the pollution.

KPC has appointed Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) Kenya Ltd to carry out an environmental, social and economic impact assessment.

“The loss of livelihoods must be adequately compensated,” said the senator.

The senators said the 37-year-old pipeline would be replaced by August, next year, to prevent such an occurrence in future.

Senator Mutula Jnr warned that if the matter was not investigated properly and addressed, he will move to court to seek justice for the residents.

“This is an emergency under the law. The national government should provide food to the affected people,” he said.

Agricultural officers have warned the locals against consuming or selling their farm produce.

Senator Wamatangi described the oil spill, believed to have spread about 3km from the point of the burst pipe, as a crime against humanity. He said the residents should be fully compensated and relocated to more habitable areas.

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