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Scare in Industrial Area after oil spillage

Oil marketers suffered a major safety scare following an oil spill that saw several depots in Nairobi’s Industrial Area evacuated on Tuesday morning.

The spillage was detected at around 9.30am after pressure built on drainage systems in the area, blowing off several concrete manhole covers.

The incident triggered an alarm, leading to the evacuation of staff and loaders at various depots including those run by Vivo Energy Kenya and the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (Nock).


“It was a scary scenario because several manhole covers were blown off the drainage channels and any slight spark could have triggered a massive fireball because of a buildup of vapour. Luckily this didn’t happen and everyone dashed to safety leaving behind loaded trucks” a trucker said.

Vivo Energy Kenya confirmed the scare and said there was a fuel spill in the drainage system that lies a few meters from its depot.

“We have established that the spill was not from our depot, but from a neighbouring depot. Further investigations into the incident are ongoing. We immediately activated our emergency response team and evacuated the depot for safety precautions,” the oil marketer said in a statement.

It added: “Nobody was injured during the incident, all our staff are safe and operations at the depot are now back to normal.”

Oil spills have become a major safety concern around the area following an incident on September 12, 2011 in which more than 100 people died in a fire in Nairobi’s Sinai slums following a leak from a section of the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) conduit.

The incident occurred near the Nairobi Joint Depot (NJD) along Nanyuki Road away from KPC headquarters and KPC Nairobi terminal, said KPC.


The oil firm, which is still grappling with a court case in which survivors of the fire are demanding compensation, plans to automate drainage systems at its seven depots across the country as it seeks to curb accidents and pollution caused by spillage of products.

The KPC said in 2015 the project will involve the installation of special spillage control equipment at its pump stations at Kipevu, Nairobi, Moi International Airport, Embakassi, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.

“The objectives of this project are to contain any spillage occurring within our facility into the storm drain system and recover it safely, determine contents of storm drain system before allowing controlled drainage from our facilities to municipalities’ common drainage system and avoid environmental pollution and accidents,” the firm said in a brief on the project without providing its cost.

It further said: “The objective of the project is to have early warning of leakage and location for effective intervention…”

Besides the Sinai fire case, the KPC is also facing another suit by residents of Kibwezi East in Makueni who have sued the oil firm and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), seeking compensation for an oil spill that contaminated River Thange and its environs in May 2015.