Auditor General Edward Ouko raises alarm, yet again, over toxic Kenya Power bulbs waste

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BUSINESS DAILY >>> Auditor-General Edward Ouko has, for the second year in a row, raised the alarm over Kenya Power’s current method of disposal of its electricity bulbs, saying the Government needs to fast-track development and implementation of a national waste management strategy to avert an environmental disaster.

Mr Ouko has specifically called on the Ministry of Energy, the power distribution firm and the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) to focus on the enactment of the draft EMCA (E- Waste Management) laws to ensure that recovered Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are disposed of safely.

In his report on the audit of Kenya Power’s Efficient Lighting Project (ELP), Mr Ouko points out that the company still focuses on destruction of bulbs rather than safe disposal.

“The disposal of ICLs (Incandescent Lamps) is focused on the destruction of the bulbs to avoid their re-introduction into the market and not the safe disposal of the same,” Mr Ouko states.

He argues that safe disposal of ICLs would mean that the bulbs are crushed using a special machine capable of separating the various components. “The glass and metal components should be recycled while the Lead Oxides should either be recycled or buried safely under NEMA’s supervision.”

The project by Kenya Power involves the use of energy-saving bulbs like CFLs, which are capable of saving up to 80 per cent of the energy used by incandescent lamps (ICLs) with same lighting intensity.

The plan by the power firm involves free replacement of 1.25 million ICLs with energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

The company is now implementing phase II, which involves free replacement of 3 million ICLs with CFLs, expected to save approximately 100MW of electricity annually.

A visit by the Auditor general to the waste handler’s site at City Cabanas, Nairobi revealed that all the 1.25 million ICLs recovered during phase I of the project were crushed using a special machine.

The recovered components, including 750kg of hazardous Lead Oxides, are still being kept unsafely at the facility.

The waste handler, however, informed the auditors that he is still looking for the safest way to dispose of the Lead Oxides.

Kenya Power officials told the audit team that the phase I disposal contract was only about crushing the bulbs, hence the waste handler is at liberty to decide what to do with the recovered components.

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