KENYA – The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has closed a milk processing factory in Nairobi, Kenya owned by Sameer Agriculture and Livestock Limited due to failure to comply with waste disposal regulations.

According to the environmental authority, the facility which is located in Nairobi’s Industrial Area and packs milk under the Daima brand has been discharging untreated wastewater into a public sewer line.

Acting Director General of NEMA, Mamo B Mamo, noted that untreated water used for processing milk contains compounds which if discharged directly without monitoring the limits required under the water quality regulations will lead to pollution of these water bodies.

This follows recent crackdown that the environment watchdog has been conducting on processing and manufacturing factories that have been alleged of disposing untreated water into Nairobi River.

“NEMA has identified 102 discharge points along Nairobi River. Out of inspections conducted, 50 percent of firms have complied. Ongoing inspections is to ensure remaining have complied as per Water Quality Regulation 2006 or be shut down,” Mr Mamo said.

The intervention has seen NEMA close four companies in Nairobi’s Industrial Area over water pollution. The companies include Modern Lithographic (K) Ltd, Apex Limited, Thorlite Kenya Ltd and Kamongo Paper Recycling Company.

“As NEMA we have been working with these factories and we normally give them time to comply before we come to the issue of closure.

“When we looked at the Nairobi river ecosystem we identified 102 discharge points, and these are the points we are currently enforcing to ensure that all these factories along the river basin that are discharging waste into our aquatic environment must be shut down,” Mr Mamo added.

A recent exposé by Nation on pollution of Nairobi River revealed that the river water could possibly have elevated levels of contaminants including heavy metals, microbial flora and chemicals – which were mainly liked to agricultural and industrial activities.  

According to a report by the World Bank, “The Invisible Water Crisis”, lack of clean water is impediment to economic growth of a country by a third.

The World Bank says a combination of bacteria, sewage, chemicals and plastics can suck oxygen from water supplies and transform water into poison for humans and ecosystems.

About 1,000 new chemicals get into the environment every year and 80 per cent of the world’s waste water is released without treatment, according to the report.

The report says that about 30 to 50 per cent of nitrogen applied to soils leaches into rivers and the air, suffocating aquatic life, worsening climate change and reducing life expectancy period through contamination.

While it is critical to maintain and monitor the hygienic environment at any food processing facility for the production of safe food product, proper wastewater disposal forms an integral component in attaining the goal.