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Nema shuts city factory over toxic emissions

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has closed Edible Oil Products limited over toxic emissions in Nairobi South area.

The company operating in Industrial Area has also had its provisional emission licence revoked over the emissions, which were beyond tolerable levels thereby violating air quality regulations.

The move by the environment agency comes after months of complaints by residents over the emissions with a number of them having reported respiratory complications including breathing complications, nose bleeding and itchy eyes as a result of air pollution in the area.

The residents had reached out to Nema on several occasions over the re-emergence of the toxic emissions towards the end of January.

In a letter by Nema acting Director General Mamo Boru Mamo, the company was ordered to stop all operations of its oil refinery plant until measures were put in place to treat and control emissions from the plant to the required standards.

“Failure to comply with this order constitutes an environmental offence that is prosecutable under the laws of Kenya,” said Mr Mamo in the May 21, 2020 letter.

The company has also been ordered to put in place air pollution control measures at the oil refinery plant and associated facilities as well as undertake ambient air quality measurement and dispersion modelling within 60 days.

Submit a commitment letter to Nema

“You are directed to submit a commitment letter to Nema in writing to the effect that you will comply with the above requirements within seven days,” he said.

Edible Oils was among three companies – others were Powerex and Usafiplus – located along Mombasa Road that were indefinitely closed last year April by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to give room for investigations over similar toxic emissions in the area.

The acting DG said that the move to close the company follows an air quality monitoring control inspection in the precincts of the company and subsequent inspection of the company by Nema environmental inspectors on May 15, 2020.

The inspection revealed that the company was causing emissions into the environment beyond the tolerable limits, causing air pollution, directly and indirectly, that can cause harm to public health as well as allowing the generation of odour that interferes with the enjoyment of a clean and healthy environment.

Mr Mamo said the actions went against environmental regulations which entitles every person in Kenya to a clean and healthy environment with a duty to safeguard and enhance the environment by contravening provisions of Environment Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) and Environment Management and Co-ordination (Air Quality) Regulations, 2014.

“Further note that when an offence is committed against the Act by a body corporate, the body corporate and every director or officer of the body corporate who had prior knowledge of the commission of the offence and who did not exercise due diligence, efficiency and economy to ensure compliance with this act shall be guilty of an offence,” said Mr Mamo.