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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 16:52 GMT
Kenya leak 'not company's fault'
Fumes coming from one of the dumped containers
The containers contained nitric acid and emitted yellow fumes
A Ugandan mining company implicated in a toxic leak near the Kenyan port city of Mombasa has denied any responsibility for the incident.

The Kasese Cobalt Company Limited (KCCL) says it is trying to understand what happened to a consignment of nitric acid which was dumped in Kipevu.

Hundreds of people say they have become ill after the containers were dumped.

The KCCL says that it has been importing nitric acid without incident for the past 10 years.

Nitric acid is used in the mining of cobalt.

KCCL general manager Bob Jennings told the BBC that the leak had started while the containers were still in the Kenyan port and that his company is not responsible for the safety of containers in transit.

Mr Jennings said the shipping company - a Ugandan firm named Southern Enterprises - had informed Kenya's environment authorities about the leak at least one month ago.

I don't enjoy sex like I used to. My wife has been complaining too - I'm suspecting that it is the toxic waste to blame as we've never had a problem before
Slum resident

But Kenya's National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) says the problem was reported less than two weeks ago - when the containers had already been dumped in the residential area.

The Mombasa port authorities say they were not aware that the containers were leaking before they were released from the port.

A private environmental consultant, Phillip Mwabe says his company - Environmental and Combustion Consultants Limited - was contracted to clear the chemicals last week, but he believed that the containers had probably been leaking for a month.

The management of the shipping company in Mombasa have been ordered to appear in court on Monday.

Health problems

Witnesses told the BBC the containers were abandoned in a slum - known as Kalahari Village - near the port about a month ago by a truck driver who had noticed liquid seeping out.

A BBC reporter in Mombasa says two women living in a Kipevu slum have complained of having miscarriages.

Other slum residents have complained of breathing difficulties, stomach upsets and chest pains.

Fumes coming from a container dumped in Mombasa
The containers are still emitting yellow fumes

Nema and the private environmental company say the chemicals have been cleared and the area is now safe.

But the BBC's Joseph Odhiambo in Mombasa says he visited the area and could still see yellow fumes coming out of the container and black sludge on the ground.

Mombasa Municipal Council chief health officer Josephant Maithya told our correspondent that the area is still not safe.

Compensation

Residents of the affected village are now demanding compensation.

They say the chemicals had destroyed property, corroding the metal sheets used to build houses and melting anything made of plastic.

Residents say their livestock have also been affected and some of the animals have died.

According to residents, the acid seems to have entered the latrine systems.

Kibibi, whose house was near the chemical spill, alleges she miscarried as a result.



SEE ALSO
Country profile: Kenya
01 Mar 08 |  Country profiles

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