NEMA ON THE SPOT OVER A COMPANY CLEANING UP AN OIL SPILL IN MAKUENI.

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Kenya Pipeline Company lawyer Philip Murgor leaving Milimani law courts.

BY SAM ALFAN.
The national environmental watchdog has distanced itself from a company contracted to clean up a 400,000 litre oil spill in River Thange in Kibwezi, Makueni County.

NEMA’s Director General Prof Geoffrey Wahungu, in a sworn affidavit filed in court stated that it was not part of a procurement process by the Kenya Pipeline Company and has sought that its name be struck off from proceedings seeking to have Enviroserve Waste Management limited stopped from conducting the delicate environmental restoration exercise for “lack of compliance.”

Enviroserve Waste management is accused of undertaking the clean-up task without certification from the National Environment Management Authority, NEMA.

When the case came up for hearing, KPC lawyer Philip Murgor said that a filing by NEMA was a “surprise” as it had referred to annextures that are disputable “some being internal communication that the first respondent was not aware of.”

The lawyer sought and was granted time to file a further affidavit in light of the new development.

In the NEMA papers, Prof Wahungu says that “the authority was not party to the procurement process and was only informed that the services of the company had been procured in undertaking the cleaning exercise of the spillage.”

He further states that an inspection was conducted on February 18 2016 at the remediation site before work commenced and the company in question “advised” to comply with the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA)

“As a further follow up on March 2, the Authority did write to Enviroserve Kenya requiring it to comply with the laid down procedures and laws,” Prof Wahungu states.

He goes on to say that on April 13 2016 NEMA visited the site and prepared a progress report” which the authority is currently deliberating.’

The report has been annexed to the court documentation and states that Enviroserve had commenced the clean up without due compliance and that the “need for compliance was re-emphasized.”

“Our periodic inspections have brought this to the attention of Enviroserve limited. However no proof of compliance has been provided,” the court documents read.

Last week, Justice Odunga directed NEMA to file papers in response in preparation for a hearing.

Environmental and Combustion consultants limited is seeking a stop order against Enviroserve Kenya and has named KPC and NEMA as respondents in the case.

Ground inspection by NEMA on November 17 2015 established that the volume of oil that spilled into the environment has kept oozing out despite a sealing on the pipeline and recommend that KPC undertakes to address the hazard.

On March 2, NEMA boss had warned Enviroserve Kenya that “proceeding with the operations without due compliance amounts to contravention of the law and may precipitate legal enforcement action against the company without further notice.”

Justice Odunga directed also that parties exchange their documents.

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