Nam Dairies under fire over oil spill

staff Writer

Namibia Diaries is facing a fine of N$24 million from the City of Windhoek for allegedly discharging oil into the sewer line causing damage to the sewerage system and the environment in early February 2019.

Around 6 000 litres of heavy oil spilled into Windhoek’s sewer system after a pipe burst at one of its plants.

It is alleged that a safety valve in the boiler room at the factory failed and caused pressure build up in the system which in turn caused a rupture in the filter pot supplying the heavy fuel oil filling the boiler room with around 24 000 litres of the oil.

The factory uses boilers to provide stream which is used in the manufacturing processes.

According to documents filed at the High Court of Namibia, the city is claiming a payment of N$24 million calculated at an interest of 9.75 percent from the date of the summons and cost of the suit. The city is alleging the oil spill was caused by negligence.

“The defendant (Nam Dairies) failed to take adequate steps to prevent an oil spill from occurring including regular inspection and testing of all plants including inspections and testing of the safety valve. When the oil spill occurred the defendant knew, or ought reasonably to have known that the drains in the boiler room were connected to the sewer line and that an oil spill in the boiler room would cause the contamination of the sewer line and the Gammans Water Care Works,” stated the document. However, the factory is denying sole responsibility for the oil spill stating that the municipality and Namibia Diaries both had the opportunity to avoid the consequences of the oil spill.

The factory said the municipality was not equipped or prepared enough to deal with a heavy fuel oil spill and that they failed to maintain and keep the evaporation pump and the storm water emergency channel ready and available to accommodate contaminated water.

“The oil spill caused physical damage to the sewer line in the form of residual heavy fuel oil which was attached to the concrete surfaces of the sewer line leading to damage to the sewerage system and the environment,” read the documents. The documents state that the oil spill led to the complete shutdown of the Gammans sewer line for 19 days and caused the city damage to a tune of about N$7 million.

Namibia Diaries is now requesting a reduction in the N$24 million demand from the city and wants to share the cost of suit.

The case has been postponed to 3 November 2022 for case management conference hearing.

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