Effects Associated with Processing Ballast and Waste Oil at Port Reitz, Mombasa-Kenya
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This study was carried out in response to a complaint regarding environmental pollution, arising from the processing of ballast water and waste oil on the premises of the landlord on Plot No. LR 1192/VI/MN, Port Reitz, Mombasa. The plot is designated commercial for purposes of land use purposes, and its tenant had been undertaking a ballast water/oil sludge scheming process to obtain fuel oil, which he sold to industrialists. This had resulted in damage to the environment as the facility incorporated no safeguard to address oil spills and no drainage system to contain waste discharges from the process. The study was undertaken to establish the level of environmental damage, propose rehabilitation costs, and offer recommendations for remedial measures. The study was realised through desk study, field visits, digging and sampling of soils for analysis. The results showed that between 60-70% of the soil in the premise was contaminated with oil, penetrating at least one meter deep. Effect from the oil contamination manifested in the failure of the soils to support growth of new vegetation, while existing tree plants were withered. The impact from this was the loss of aesthetic beauty of the property, reducing its amenity value. Percolation of oil underground in porous rock formation has potential to contaminate groundwater, threating the quality status of this resource for domestic purposes. The process activities were also of health concern since no safeguards had been provided to protect the workers from direct contact the oil. Hydrocarbon oils when exposed to hot climatic conditions like those prevalent in Mombasa, which provide high solar radiation have the potential to breakdown, emitting some toxic and potentially carcinogenic substances. The facility therefore exposed the workers to the dangers of contracting cancer through inhalation of the emissions with potential long term health consequences. Finally, the massive physical environmental damage on the premises means rehabilitation costs could be high. Estimates indicated that as much as US$100,000 would be required to restore the premises to a condition that would allow natural regeneration. The findings also indicate that the activity being undertaken, is not the best land-use for the area. It is consequently recommended that if the activity must continue, then it must be conducted according to established guidelines. Otherwise, it is ideal that it is ceased, and rehabilitation works, commenced. It is also observed that important potential effects were not included in this research. Ballast water is known to introduce invasive species. Efforts therefore need to be undertaken to determine the presence such species in the neighbourhood before they attain pest proportions.