Owino Uhuru slum gets Sh1.3bn for lead poisoning

Court awards Sh1.3 billion to 3,000 residents who filed class action suit lead poisoning.

In Summary

• Environment Court in Mombasa awards Sh1.3 billion damages to 3,000 residents who filed a class actionn suit over lead poisoning from smelting plant.

• Held liable: Nema, CSs for Environment, Health, Export Processing Zone Authorityprty

Residents of Owino Uhuru slum in Jomvu, Mombasa county, during a protest against a lead company.
CLASS ACTION: Residents of Owino Uhuru slum in Jomvu, Mombasa county, during a protest against a lead company.
Image: FILE

Residents of Owino Uhuru slum in Mombasa have been awarded Sh1.3 billion compensation for death, sickness and damages caused by emissions from a lead smelting factory.

More than 3,000 people filed the class action suit in 2016, seeking Sh2 billion damages.

Environment Court judge Ann Omolo on Thursday gave the Cabinet Secretaries for Environment and Health, Nema, Metal Refinery EPZ Ltd, the Export Processing Zone Authority and Penguin Paper and Book Company 90 days to pay the award.

The money will go to the people in Jomvu who either worked for or lived next to the now-closed smelting plant, Metal Refinery EPZ.

The court said the ministries, agencies and company were liable for death and damages suffered by the residents.

Omolo said Nema was bore the greatest responsibility for damages at 40 per cent. The mental refinery that produced the lead would bear 25 per cent of the damages for negligence.

The two ministries were each found 10 per cent liable while the paper and book company was declared liable for five per cent.

The court absolved Mombasa county from responsibility.

Judge Omolo also directed the state agencies and private companies to clean the soil, water and remove any waste deposited within the settlement within 120 days.

If they fail to comply, the parties will have to pay Sh700 million that will be paid to the Centre for Justice Governance and Environment Action, the civil society organisation behind the class action suit.

The company extracted lead from used car batteries, emitting fumes containing lead and released untreated acid water.

It was closed in 2014 after at least five deaths were reported.

(Edited by V. Graham) 



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