Indian company ordered to pay $12 million for Poisoning Kenyans
An Indian company called Metal Refinery EPZ has been ordered to pay $12 million in a lawsuit over lead poisoning of Kenyans.
A Kenyan community whose children and residents were sickened by lead from a battery smelting plant has been awarded $12 million (1.3 billion Kenyan shillings) following a civil lawsuit.
The Kenyan court ordered the government to clean up Owino Uhuru, a village on the outskirts of Mombasa, within four months and has gaven the relevant agencies 90 days to pay out the compensation money.
In 2007, the Indian company Metal Refinery (EPZ) Ltd. began its operations of recycling lead from old used lead-acid car batteries in Owino Uhuru, an informal settlement in Mombasa, Kenya
The ruling comes after years of grassroots work by environmental activist Phyllis Omido, who launched a legal challenge against the government and the smelting plant owners, accusing them of violating of Kenyan environmental and human rights law and exposing the community to lead poisoning.
She kick-started years of grassroots demonstration for the factory’s closure and investigation into residents’ allegations of health problems caused by the smelting factory’s activities.
The company shut down in 2014 eight years after it began operation nearby the village and only when Kenya made the exportation of scrap metal illegal.
Dozens of residents tested positive following a 2015 assessment by the government and some tests conducted showed blood lead levels that were deemed dangerous by the Kenyan Centers for Disease Control.
Her campaign through the Center for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action she founded in 2014 to tackle environmental abuses in Kenya has led to the shuttering of at least 10 toxic waste smelters in the East African country in the last five years.
The activist says there is more work to be done.
Omido said hundreds of children suspected to have been impacted by the presence of toxic smelters in the village are yet to be tested, according to her organization’s assessment.