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Kenya Appeals Ruling to Compensate Community Poisoned by Lead Company

Residents of a Mombasa slum won a landmark payout in July over pollution by a lead smelter that poisoned locals. Kenya’s government was ordered to pay $12 million to residents within 90 days because of its failure to enforce environmental regulations with the smelter, which closed in 2014. But the government has appealed the decision. Authorities shut down the lead smelter run by Kenya Metal Refineries EPZ Limited in 2014 due to severe pollution and after several deaths that locals blamed on lead poisoning. But it wasn’t until this past July that an environmental and land court awarded the residents of Mombasa’s Owino Uhuru slum a $12 million payout. It was the first time the Kenyan government was ordered to compensate victims for failing to stop pollution, setting a precedent for future claims. Kenya activist group Center for Justice Governance & Environmental Action (CJGEA) helped locals with suing the government. Tom Ooko is the programs officer at CJGEA. He spoke to VOA about the case.