NEMA raps environmental

best practices with whip

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has been up in arms this year cracking the whip on investments and manufacturers who are not meeting their environmental obligations suspending or closing their operations.

NEMA started to whip noncompliant entities as early as March this year when it suspended the operations of Build Africa, a factory in Mubende district over degradation of Rwentama Wetland. It also suspended the operations of SINO iron ore mining company in Kabale district over dumping of iron ore waste into a wetland and discharging effluent into River Kiruruma.

Pramukh Steel Limited (steel manufacturing and power generation plants) located along Kayunga road in Njeru Municipality; Buikwe District became the latest victim to be whipped by NEMA.

The operations of the two factories were brought to a halt towards the end of October due to alleged failure by both factories to honor their environmental requirements of minimizing pollution.

NEMA inspectors together with officials from Njeru Municipal Council had visited the facility on October 22, 2022 following a public tipoff only to discover that the plants did not have adequate air pollution controls.

The lack of adequate air pollution controls prompted NEMA to suspend the operations of the two factories with a clear indication that the suspension would not be vacated until corrective action was taken by putting in place appropriate air pollution controls to the satisfaction of NEMA.

Air pollution in the case of Pramukh Steel Limited was in the form of black ash arising from burning of bagasse at the power generation plant and pungent fumes from the steel furnaces that were being openly released into the environment and had become a nuisance to the surrounding communities.

The law under section 128 of the National Environment Act, No.5, 2019 bequeaths NEMA with the powers to among others; close any manufacturing plant or stop any other activity or seize any equipment, vehicle or vessel which pollutes or is likely to pollute the environment.

The same section grants the authority the power to issue an environmental improvement notice or environmental compliance notice requiring the operator of any manufacturing plant or other activity to cease any activity deleterious to human health or the environment.

Section 78 subsection (1) of the National Environment Act, states that a person shall not cause pollution or initiate anything that may occasion a risk of pollution, except in accordance with the Act and any other applicable law.

Subsection (2) of the same section states that; Subject to subsection (1), a person whose activities are likely to cause pollution shall put in place measures to prevent the pollution from occurring, including by use of best available techniques and best environmental practices.

The International Standards Organization has provided organizations and companies with Environmental Management System which set best practices and techniques that help an organization to reduce the environmental impact of its operations on the environment.

Environmental Management System based on ISO 14001:2015 is an international standard that helps organizations minimize the environmental impact of their operations by identify which environmental risks are likely occur from the organization’s activity and provide solutions on how the identified risks to environment will be prevented from happening.

When an organization implements an Environmental Management System, it will setup a framework that prevents such environmental risks like pollution from occurring.

The Environmental Management System will help the organization to come up with an environmental management plan or frame work which is able to monitor, control, and continuously improve the environmental performance of the organization. It identifies, manages, monitors, and controls the environmental performance of an organization as a whole.

Therefore implementing ISO 14001:2018 enables the organization to develop, implement and audit the Environmental Management System.