• The people of Turkana are likely to experience loss of pasture land, contamination of underground water, land and air pollution.
• Petroleum Act mandates the companies to take care of the mining areas to cause minimal harm, a duty that seems to be simply neglected.
Residents of Turkana county are at risk of being exposed to hazardous environmental factors.
The well pads have poor security, no or inadequate fencing and poor waste management systems that expose residents to hazardous environmental effects.
The Ministry of Petroleum and mining, which conducts its duties on behalf of the people of Kenya, appears to be asleep on their accountability job.
The people of Turkana are likely to experience loss of pasture land, contamination of underground water, land and air pollution.
“In my recent visit to the Turkana mining exploration sites on the 22nd to 25th September 2021, I discovered that nine mining well Pads have no fences, no security and the dumping site for waste was poorly managed. The waste is consolidated in one land field and has not been tested for hazardous chemicals, while some attendings lacked proper protective gear,” said Muturi Kamau, Director of Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGWG).
He added that the Petroleum Act mandates the companies to take care of the mining areas to cause minimal harm, a duty that seems to be simply neglected.
The Turkana County Director of Environmental Affairs Jacob Asembo County said Tullow and joint ventures had drilled about 40 successful wells pads are securely fenced and manned although they had few cases of vandalism.
Context of the law provisions
Muturi said the 2019 frontline engineering design and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs) are obligations that need to be met for development to take place.
Muturi said that while Kenya is making strides in ensuring proper governance mechanisms in terms of policy, legislative, regulatory and institutional frameworks, more still needs to be done to ensure the implementation.
For instance, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining is formulating and updating the Kenya Petroleum Policy 2018 to provide a policy framework for the sector.
On March 12, 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta accented to the Petroleum Act, 2019, which was aimed at addressing several areas that were missing in the repealed Petroleum (exploration and development) Act, Cap 386 of 1984, including ratifying field development plans and field development plans by parliament.
Asembo said all highly hazardous waste is transported and incinerated at Nema licensed sites in Athi River.
The remaining waste that is mud cuttings, silicate and oil-based cuttings are currently held in Twiga one (waste transfer station).
“There is a possibility of underground water contamination and also soil contamination in case the waste is not handled more safely,” said Asembo.
Asembo said in order to protect the environment in Turkana, there is a need to develop a waste treatment facility in South Lokichar, Routine monitoring of stored waste, good integrity of liners and environmental monitoring.
The community in Turkana had raised the alarm in September 2021 on waste management problems and licencing lapsing.
Environmental pollution affects communities, emissions from exploration fuel climate change, and drilling disrupts wildlife habitats.
Edited by D Tarus