Lodwar, 7th May 2021 (By Governor’s Press Service)- Governor Josphat Nanok has called for an immediate action on safe disposal of hazardous waste from oil and gas operations at the South Lokichar oil basin.

Warning of the harmful impact the toxic waste has on the environmental and the health dangers to communities living close to unsecured dumping sites, the Governor said if National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Tullow Oil Plc fail to comply, the County Government will head to court. This is in a bid to protect the health of the people and the already fragile environment.

Speaking during a meeting with members of NEMA Board of Management, led by Augustine Neto, who paid him a visit at the County HQ, Governor Nanok decried lack of poor information flow on waste management, with the community and County Government in the dark over measures being taken.

“We have not done so well on waste management in the extractives sector, especially with oil and gas where there has been no feedback on disposal of hazardous material on a number of sites not approved by the County Government.”

” There is need for a solution on management of waste sites left problematic immediately and to lay groundwork for proper environmental care before we begin full oil production. If the situation stays longer as it is, I can guarantee that we well sue NEMA and Tullow,” he stated.

He called for a review of the law on public participation in relation to environmental impact assessment, to compel organisations to use alternative media to reach the public who have no access to newspapers or other traditional media.

To manage artisanal mining sector in the county, Governor Nanok urged for collaboration to develop regulations on environmental protection. He also asked for further partnership to develop the capacity of County Environmental officers and close working relations between the agency and the county.

On invasive prosopis, the Governor reiterated on need to issue commercial licenses for charcoal burning in areas the invasion was extensive, to rid arable land and pasture fields of the plant. The available land will then benefit from reforestation programmes.

He said the County Government and NEMA will partner to review and develop regulations to guide hospitality industry developing infrastructure along Lake Turkana, with rising levels of the lake threatening establishments.

Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro, who is serving as the County Executive for Water, Environment and Mineral Resources echoed the Governor’s concern on toxic waste from oil exploration dumping sites not approved by NEMA or the County Government, with a danger of contamination of water sources.

With rising need of environmental inspection, the DG urged the board to strengthen the capacity of NEMA office in Lodwar.

While NEMA’s Agostinho Neto assured the Governor that NEMA was addressing environmental concerns on oil exploration and had just concluded a visit to a number of waste disposal sites. He said further engagement of all stakeholders in the oil sector was needed to address the lack of coordination.

He also announced that the Authority was working on a policy and set of regulations to manage artisanal mining in Kenya, and was working with Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFFRI) for a solution to prosopis invasion.

Senior County officials present were Chief Officer for Water, Environment and Mineral Resources Moses Natome, Director of Environment Clement Nadio, Director of Mineral Resources Stella Opakas and Advisor on Extractives Iris Mariao.

Other NEMA Board Members present were Prof. Barnabas Mitaru, Teresiah Malokwe, Halima Ware, Juma Ngeiywa as well as NEMA County Director for Environment Jacob Ambasa.