James Wakibia, famous for the slogan #BanPlasticKe, which led to banishing of plastic paper in Kenya last year, has been campaigning against the disposal of Asbestos waste at Gioto dump site, along the Nakuru-Kabarak road.
The freelance photographer and self-declared environmental activist regularly uses social media platform to engage his followers especially on Facebook to promote for a healthy environment in his town area of Nakuru and the country as a whole.
Recently he had a resentment concerning the dumping of asbestos fiber waste products at Gioto dumpsite, with a fear of the health risks towards residents and transporters.
“Nakuru County Government should ensure that hazardous asbestos materials are properly disposed off in the right manner and place to protect people from exposure to asbestos dust.
It has been proven that inhaling asbestos sheet causes lung cancer. The asbestos sheet disposed in Gioto dumpsite are dangerous to those working there, he reiterated.
Through his post, he allegedly tried reaching to county authority, since then no steps were taken. The exposure puts residents of hilltop, Kiamunyi, and Olive in danger.
What are asbestos?
Asbestos, according to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), is hazardous material with extremely fine fibers and can remain suspended in air for hours. If handled without caution it may cause serious lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Disposing of asbestos waste management
In accordance with National Environmental Agency (NEA), when disposing asbestos material proper guidelines must be followed:
The asbestos materials shall be packed while still wet into sealable and impermeable containers for removal.
All plastic sheet, tapes, cleaning materials, clothing and filter bags used in vacuum system suitable respirators shall be worn by workers.
Container of asbestos waste shall be labeled as follows: ‘Asbestos- Do Not Inhale Dust’.
The guidelines on the transportation of asbestos waste
Transporter shall ensure that the asbestos wastes are properly kept in air-tight containers with appropriate label and the outside of the containers is not contaminated with asbestos debris.
The container shall be loaded onto the transport vehicle in a careful manner so as to prevent damage to the container.
The vehicle used to transport containers with asbestos waste shall have enclosed compartments or canvas to contain the waste.
Kenya banned Asbestos in 2006 after it was linked to cancer.
Many Kenyans have limited knowledge on danger posed by asbestos. Furthermore, residents of Njoro, Nakuru town, Molo and Naivasha still uses asbestos as an alternative roofing.
However, Nakuru Water Sewerage and Sanitation, on the other hand use asbestos pipes to pump water to the area increasing the risk of the material.
The company recently received a Kshs. 300million grant from the government of Germany to replace the piping systems which might take some more time to fully replace, but the danger is lurking among its residents.
By George Ogallo