Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) has warned the residents of Makueni who rely on River Kiboko against drinking water from the river saying that it is highly contaminated with petroleum products.
River Kiboko was contaminated by the spillage of diesel following a puncture on the part of the new Sh48 billion Mombasa-Nairobi oil pipeline.
The water agency confirmed the water is unsafe for drinking on last week. This revelation comes barely one month after the spillage of the oil.
WARMA stated there was presence of grease in the water wells and other water points around the area.
“Following the recent petroleum oil spill from the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) pipeline about 400 to 500 metres from Kiboko Spring, a precautionary notice is hereby issued to the water users to seek alternative safe water sources pending confirmatory report on the safety of the water,” Mr Stephen Munyao who is the head of WARMA in the region stated.
The reports are scanty about how long the new pipeline had been leaking before the spillage was noticed on last month.
“We did not expect a leak on this pipeline since it is only one-year-old. This was an accident. “We suspect that the punctured spot was weakened by a boulder dropped by an excavator during the laying of the pipeline,” acting KPC managing director, Hudson Andambi said.
However, technicians from KPC have repaired the pipeline although the trenches sunk around the affected area indicates that the water has been contaminated with oil products.
“Be assured that no more oil will percolates because we have sealed the pipeline. We have embarked on establishing the extent of the leakage and that is why we have sunk the inspection trenches. A contractor will soon come over to map the extent of the oil spillage and the concentration of the oil in the soil and the water sources using specialized technology. We shall then remove all the contaminated soil to Makindu Pump Station because we don’t want it to remain there to continue causing more trouble,” said Mr Andambi.
The Water Resources Authority had directed KPC to fast track cleaning up the area before the oil contaminates more springs and polluting the environment.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior demanded the cleaning process to be guided by the National Environment Management Authority and active involvement of Makueni county department of water and environment.
The Makueni Water and Environment Executive Robert Kisyula, Kibwezi West MP, Patrick Musimba, and the locals raised concerns on KPC to quickly clean up the area to prevent further contamination.
This oil spillage comes at a time when another one at the Thange River, 45 kilometres South of Kiboko, that occurred 3 years ago has not been fully adressed. The compensation of those affected by the spillage has not been fully settled and KPC has not yet restored the affected area.