NO ENOUGH EVIDENCE

Court dismisses application to close Agro Chemicals and Food Company over pollution

In Summary

• Patrick Odundo and Maxwell Otieno wanted the company stopped from any further discharge of its industrial waste into River Nyando  and the adjunct Muhoroni township.

• The matter will be heard on April 1.

A section of River Kibos. Petitioners want to stop pollution on RiveR Nyando.
A section of River Kibos. Petitioners want to stop pollution on RiveR Nyando.
Image: FAITH MATETE

Two Muhoroni residents have suffered a blow after the court declined to temporarily close down Agro Chemicals and Food Company over alleged discharging raw industrial effluent into River Nyando.

Environment and Land Court judge Antony Ombwayo dismissed the application by two petitioners on Friday, saying the petitioners did not provide enough evidence.

They had only produced an article by the media indicating the National Environment Management Authority had ordered for the closure of the company.

"Having failed to establish the case, the petitioners' application is dismissed, "Ombwayo ruled.

Patrick Odundo and Maxwell Otieno wanted the company stopped from any further discharge of its industrial waste into River Nyando  and the adjunct Muhoroni township.

They wanted the operations of the company suspended at its main plant in Muhoroni pending the hearing and determination of the petition.

In the lawsuit, the company is the first respondent, while Nema and the Attorney General are second and third respondents.

The petitioners say there is a deliberate and incremental discharge of toxic waste into Nyando River basin with adverse consequences to the health of residents downstream.

They argue that farming, fishing, livestock keeping, laundry, domestic and other related economic activities derivative of the river waters have been disrupted. 

They also argue that respondents have abdicated their lawful mandates by permitting and condoning the illegal discharge of toxic industrial waste.

 

“Nema had withdrawn the license of the company on account of breaches and non-compliance with the law regarding refuse disposal, factual proof of imminent danger posed by the company to the petitioners and their fellow residents,” the court documents read in part. 

The company denied discharging raw effluent into River Nyando and said they are legally compliant.

In their affidavit, Peter Macharia, the environment and safety manager at Agro Chemicals said the company is legally compliant and has been issued with up to date licences.

Under the Environment Management and Coordination Act, the company is required to carry out environmental sustainability, monitoring and reporting to Nema.

NEMA RESPONSE

Nema county director Tom Togo said the company has been on their radar due to complaints on pollution from its distillery of alcohol spirits. Untreated effluent is allegedly discharged into the environment, especially in Nyando.

Togo said that the company applied for an Effluent Discharge Licence in 2019.

Nema officers then conducted an inspection on March 6 and recommended the suspension of the operations of the company due to the dire state of liquid waste management.

“As a follow up action, a team from Nema headquarters accompanied by some officers further inspected and monitored the company on April 10 but found the situation still wanting. A recommendation to issue an improvement order was given,” he said.

Togo further said in his affidavit that the intention of cancelling the EDL is yet to be implemented by the company through the same is in the pipeline.

The matter will be heard on April 1.