Thika residents exposed to health risks as asbestos waste is dumped in the open

The broken asbestos sheets were brought in 20 trucks from Nairobi last week

Kiambu County Executive Member for Water and Environment Esther Njuguna shows the asbestos waste that was dumped in the open near residential estates in Thika. She said the guidelines for disposing asbestos waste were not followed. PHOTO | OLIVER MUSEMBI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

  • Asbestos fibre, which was initially used to make roofing sheets, is highly toxic and causes cancer of the lungs and stomach.
  • County Executive Member for Water and Environment Esther Njuguna called the dumping “criminal and unscrupulous.”
  • The dumpsite neighbours Makongeni, Kiganjo and Kisii estates, whose residents are now exposed to cancer risks.
  • Incidentally, the only registered dumping site for asbestos waste in the country is in Gatuanyaga, a short distance from the Kang’oki dumpsite.

Concerns have been raised over a large consignment of asbestos waste dumped near residential estates in Thika by a contractor.

Kiambu County officials said the broken asbestos sheets were brought in 20 trucks from Nairobi last week and dumped at the Kang’oki garbage dumpsite.

Asbestos fibre, which was initially used to make roofing sheets, is highly toxic and causes cancer of the lungs and stomach.

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It has since been classified as a hazardous substance and banned.

Speaking at the site Monday, County Executive Member for Water and Environment Esther Njuguna called the dumping “criminal and unscrupulous”, adding that the dumping was done without informing the county administration.

CRIMINAL ACT

“This is a criminal act since the guidelines for disposing asbestos waste were not followed.

“Dumping in the open exposes thousands of residents to grave health risks,” she said.

The official also said she was surprised to learn that an officer from the National Environment Management Authority supervised the dumping, which was done at various spots at the dumpsite.

Ms Njuguna, who was accompanied by Kiambu County Director of Environment Andrew Kimani, said they were pursuing the contractor, who reportedly ferried the waste from a market under rehabilitation in Nairobi.

Incidentally, the only registered dumping site for asbestos waste in the country is in Gatuanyaga, a short distance from the Kang’oki dumpsite.

A number of villagers who eke out a living by scavenging for valuables from the dumpsite were spotted carting away some of the asbestos sheets, unaware of the danger they exposed themselves to.

The dumpsite neighbours Makongeni, Kiganjo and Kisii estates, whose residents are now exposed to cancer risks.

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