There is a silent killer soon to be introduced to the Lamu residents.
The Lamu coal plant, promoted by Amu Power Company is shrouded in secrecy as has been demonstrated by the curious and suspicious fast tracking of its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Report and licensing by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
Coal burning produces by products such as lead, which for your information, has no safe level in the human body.
It also produces toxic Mercury, which is dangerous to nervous system including the brain. Mercury readily gets to water bodies such as rivers, lakes and oceans. It is converted to ethyl mercury which is ingested by fish. When humans consume fish, they ingest mercury and develop chronic mercury poisoning which is non reversible.
Sulphur dioxide is another by product of coal burning. It is responsible for acid rain which in turn leads to devastation of crops and plant life. In humans and other animals, it corrodes the respiratory system leading to chronic bronchitis and increased asthmatic attacks.
Other dangerous compounds include Cadmium – which is a known carcinogen of the respiratory tract, carbon dioxide, sulphur oxides and cyanide. All of which affect the environment negatively.
Investors in the Lamu coal project want to deceive the country that they will put in place mechanisms to ensure that none of the toxins leak to the environment. Well, statistics indicate that even the US coal plants are unable to control discharge of these substances to the environment.
It begs the question as to why a country like ours which has renewable energy source potential like wind, geothermal and endless potential for solar energy could rush to coal without any due consideration.
The answer lies in our corrupt ways and both individual and corporate greed at the expense of the poor people living around the proposed plant in Lamu County.
The local leaders may be easy to compromise and given a chance, they can sell the entire community to the devil so long as they’re assured a parliamentary seat, a cabinet secretary post or a senior position in a State Corporation.
This project must be stopped and the only people who can do this are the locals who stand to lose heavily irrespective of what they’ve being promised as compensation and supposed rewards of development.
Surely, a one off compensation cannot and will never cover the overall cost in terms of human life and sickness which will plague the community for ever once the plant becomes operational.
The author, Christopher Kibiwott, is a an Environmental Health Officer, a Senior Nursing Officer and a Social Justice Activist. He can be reached on email through firstname.lastname@example.org