Kenya: London Distillers on the Spot for Polluting Athi River

21 September 2019

A government report has revealed shocking details on pollution of Athi River.

Different agencies have come up to rein in on companies that discharge toxic elements into the river.

A report by Ministry of Water and Sanitation indicates that Athi River water is heavily contaminated with heavy metals and should not be used as a direct source of drinking water.

POLLUTION

The national and county governments have stepped in to address the problem with London Distillers limited being accused of polluting the river.

The study conducted by the University of Nairobi revealed that pollution is increasing downstream.

On Monday, Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui chaired a Cabinet sub- committee meeting where pollution and management of rivers was discussed.

The committee also approved the establishment of an inter-agency technical committee on river protection and pollution management.

Machakos County government has written to London Distillers over pollution of Athi River.

"You are required to comply with the water quality regulations as we continue to monitor the same from different points a long your sewer line. Failure to comply within one month from receipt of this order will lead to lockage of the sewer inlet," reads the letter signed by Mr Eric Ndemange dated September 17, and addressed to the general manager London Distillers limited.

TESTS

Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) has also written to the company over the same.

"We are in possession of tests reports from various reputable laboratories indicating that the effluent being discharged from your distillery to the public sewer line owned by this authority is hazardous," reads the letter to the company dated September 20 signed by acting chief executive officer George Makateto.

It continues: "As an organisation, we do not support any act that will result in pollution and endanger the lives by allowing you to continue discharging such waste into EPZA sewer line with immediate effect."

Mr Makateto said to protect the authority's reputation and protect the lives, the permit to discharge affluent from the company into EPZA sewer line has been withdrawn.

TREATMENT

"Be informed that any new application you make for reconnection will only be considered after you fully comply with acceptable industrial international standards for effluent treatment," adds the letter.

Mavoko Water and Sewerage Company also wrote to the company informing it that analysed samples from its affluent from its distillery do not meet the standards set by the government and water regulations 2016.

"This is affecting the performance of the treatment plant at Kinanie. We have been accused by National Environment Management Authority (Nema) of polluting Athi River. We therefore give you 14 days to comply by improving on your waste treatment plant failure to which you will be permanently barred from discharging to public sewer," reads the letter dated September 18.

The Ministry of Water report has since recommended that a multi-agency approach is necessary to develop and implement intervention measures for sustainable management of solid and liquid waste.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

Other interventions proposed by the ministry are; change of attitude of the residents in managing waste, industries to invest in technologies and innovate solutions for waste management and desist from maximising profits at the expense of conserving the environment.

A report by National Assembly's environmental committee dated October 11, 2018, asked the company to invest in state of the art technologies to reduce air pollution and recycle solid waste.

The committee also asked the company to strictly comply with Nema provisions.

"Implement the culture of reduction, recycling and reuse of waste in daily operations, recommends the report.

However, the company has denied the accusation and instead blamed Erdemann Properties for the pollution.

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