Capital FM (Nairobi)
Kenya: UNEP Experts to Assess Environmental Impact of Airport FireBy Judie Kaberia, 16 August 2013
Nairobi — Experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have arrived in Kenya to gauge the environmental impact of the fire that gutted the arrivals and departure lounges at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
According to UNEP, the experts will examine how the fire could have affected the environment and ascertain what kinds of chemicals were used to contain it.
"The team will conduct an environmental assessment of the impacts of the fire, including sampling and analysis to determine the possible effects of fire residues and extinguishing agents on the environment," the statement explained.
The team will further assist Kenyan authorities involved in the clean up to establish if there is presence of asbestos, which could have an impact of the environment.
Since the massive destruction, President Uhuru Kenyatta opened up the VIP section to be used as an alternative to ensure smooth flow of arrivals and departures.
According to UNEP, the experts will also scrutinise the alternative unit that Kenya is using as a temporary solution to ensure it is safe.
The team is also expected to furnish Kenyan authorities with recommendations that it can implement to manage the impact the fire had on the environment.
"It will provide recommendations for managing environmental impacts of the airport fire, including linkage of relevant national and airport policies, guidelines and airport contingency planning."
The team includes experts in disaster management, environmental assessment, sampling and waste management, fire fighting, chemistry, and airport logistics. Team members hail from Denmark, the Gambia, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
UNEP said the team was expected to complete its assessment within a week and compile a report on its findings which will be published.
Kenya received massive local and international support with a landmark call from US President Barrack Obama to President Uhuru Kenyatta where he pledged to support the country in disaster training.
Investigations into the disastrous fire are still ongoing and the aspect of terrorism has already been ruled out.
Teams of investigators who include locals and foreign teams are exploring two possible causes of fire which could have either been intentional or accidental.
However operations at JKIA have normalised even as Kenya plans to expand the airport which has previously been overwhelmed with handling passengers who come and leave in ever growing numbers.
Judie is a Special Projects Reporter. She has eight years experience in Journalism in Kenya and Germany. She has scooped awards in Reproductive Health, Population and Development and Gender and Development. She has participated in international conferences in Germany. She has a soft spot for human rights and justice stories.