The Environmental Affairs Department has sealed Sunseed Oil Company in Lilongwe for allegedly discharging industrial waste into surrounding village’s gardens and onward to Nafutsa stream thereby endangering communities around it.
The discharge is a disaster which was supposed to be contained and confined within the company premises, according to waste management laws and rules.
The department’s environmental inspector Linda Kalolokesya said the Lilongwe-based oil company discharged effluent which were flowing to nearby crop fields.
“We followed the flow of the effluent from the outlet to the field. It covers a distance of over one kilometre. We have been engaging the company to improve. So, we have closed for lack of improvement,” said Kalolokesya.
And communities living close to Sunseed Oil Company said they were wondering while their crops were not growing properly until they linked that to the disposal of effluent.
The department also showed reporters an outlet with effluent from Sunseed Oil premises flowing to nearby crop fields.
Officials said Sunseed Oil Company has been time and again advised to bring robust containment gulleys and dams within their factory, to fully control the waste.
Deputy director for environmental impact assessment and pollution Shamiso Najira said Sunseed Oil Company committed a number of offences but the major one is that “they are discharging untreated waste water, that also contains oils, direct into the environment, especially people’s farms without any approval from the department which is contrary to Section 60 of the Environmental Management Act (2017), among other sections.”
Najira said this is not the first time Sunseed has been closed for the same offence.
But Sunseed Oil Company managing director Shripad Dabholkar said he is surprised with the department’s decision, claiming the company complied with all requirements, including submitting a performance report and indicating how they were managing their effluent treatment plant.
He said they are ready to comply with the law.
Commentators have commended Environmental Affairs Department for their action on Sunseed Oil Company, saying profit seekers have gotten away with environmental atrocities the laws abhor.
More than 150 villagers in the area are in grave danger of suffering—and even dying—from various diseases, as they are forced to drink what an environmental expert says is heavily-contaminated water.
Section 60 of the Environmental Management Act of 2017 empowers Environmental Affairs Department to close companies that pollute.
Sunseed Oils is a company that manufactures cooking oil such as Mulawe and Sungold. It also manufactures Sunsoap and Mulawe salt.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :