Nema puts air polluters on notice

Authority to roll out air quality regulations.

In Summary

• Nema will be doing a controlled audit to establish the status of air pollution.

• It will ensure all the facilities put the equipment to monitor ambient air quality.

Endmor factory along Mombasa Road
Endmor factory along Mombasa Road
Image: FILE

The National Environment Management Authority has announced that it will carry out emission testing for all facilities within Athi River.

“We are going to do emission testing for all the facilities in Mavoko subcounty because we have a lot of cement and steel factories,” Nema director-general Mamo Mamo told the Star.

He said the authority will be doing a controlled audit to establish the status of air pollution and ensure all the facilities put the equipment to monitor ambient air quality.

He said the findings of the controlled audit are set to be out in two weeks. Mamo said this even as he announced that the authority is set to roll out air quality regulations, 2014, this financial year. He spoke last Thursday.

The objective of Air Quality Regulations is to provide for prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution to ensure clean and healthy ambient air.

The regulations provide for the establishment of emission standards for various sources such as mobile sources (such as motor vehicles) and stationary sources (such as industries) as outlined in the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, 1999.

It also covers any other air pollution source as may be determined by the minister in consultation with the authority. Emission limits for areas and facilities have been set.

The regulations provide the procedure for designating controlled areas, and the objectives of air quality management plans for these areas. The emission standards for mobile sources are, however, stipulated under KS 1515.

The authority, in consultation with the agency responsible for vehicle inspection, may at any time order for the inspection of a vehicle releasing visible exhaust emissions. They will also ensure all commercial and public service vehicles undergo emission tests annually, and all private vehicles over five years old undergo emission tests once every two years.

There have been several complaints about deteriorating air quality from factories working along Mombasa Road.

In 2016, the Syokimau residents told Nema the offending pollution was coming from Endmor Steel Millers Limited, a metal smelting company built inside Syokimau in 2013.

This has opened one of the most vicious battles on air quality, pitting the factory against its 12,000 neighbours. 

The factory began operations in 2016, and residents claim they find it difficult to stay inside their homes, especially when it is in full production.

They complained emissions of particulate matter are beyond the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation and violate the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, 1999. Particulate matter is visible smoke, dust, soot, and other solid particles, and liquid droplets invisible to the human eye. 

The factory management has dismissed the residents’ complaints, saying they have adopted the best techniques and systems for noise and emissions control.

Nema had called for the factory to stop all its operations until they install air pollution control systems.

However, Endmor fought back and appealed against the order at the environment tribunal, which is constituted by the Environment ministry.

The tribunal overruled Nema and allowed the factory to resume operations, pending its appeal against the Nema decision.