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B.A.T. Escapes Closure By A Whisker After Oil Leaks Towards River Chania.

A section of the oily drainage heading towards River Chania and The BAT workers clearing the mess

B.A.T. Kenya Limited, the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer, this week escaped the wrath of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for being suspected of polluting the waters of River Chania with oily substance that can affect human, animal and plant life.

Trouble started on Tuesday when the Thika-based company was refilling its underground tanks that store oil used for running the factory’s boilers.

It is alleged that one of the oil tankers unintentionally failed to fix the nozzle properly into one of the tanks leading to the diesel going into the waste drainage that drains water to River Chania. No one noticed this mess in which over 3000 litres of diesel is suspected to have been lost, until the following day when people using the Makongeni- Del Monte Road saw some oily substance flowing towards the river and notified the NEMA officials.

The NEMA officials rushed to the scene and ascertained that the diesel had not actually drained into the river. However, they arrested one of the company’s directors for negligence but later released him with one condition that they cleared off the mess within one day.

Production in the company was halted on Friday and Saturday when over 150 workers were ordered to first contain the flow of the oil from draining into the river and then clean the drainage to rid of all the oil residues.

When Thika Town Today crew visited the scene, we witnessed the contingent of aproned workers ‘sucking’ the oil with sisal sacks and disposing them into waste bins for further disposal into safer ground. They were also clearing the residues and covering the tunnel with soil to reduce the risk of environmental pollution.

The waters of River Chania as witnessed by our crew on the scene of the oil leak
Officials and staff who spoke to us in anonymity said that their greatest fear was an eventuality of it raining since that could complicate the situation.

Our sources in the company informed us that the top management yesterday held a closed-door meeting to discuss the situation. We were not able to get details of what transpired in the meeting or what action would be taken against those who erred in this instance since none of the officials were ready to talk to the press.

By the time our crew left the scene at around 6:30pm, the workers had not yet managed to clean up all the oil. They were ordered to report for duty today (Sunday) to pick from where they left.

The entry of contaminants into our waterways poses a major potential of hazards for the environment and may impact it at different levels (air, water, soil) and consequently all living beings on our planet.

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