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Kibiro Mud Explosion Leaves Residents in Fear

The government has been conducting geothermal surveys Which Involved drilling eight temperature gradient holes to exploit geothermal energy at the famous Kibiro hot-springs. However, one of the holes that were being drilled by M/s Royal Techno Industries Limited, exploded on March 29, letting out a waxy mixture containing natural gas, clay, water, drilling mud and limited traces of oil which smelled like gasoline.
A man points at the sealed Well that exploded at Kibiro recently.

Audio 4

More than 100 households are living in fear following a mud spill that occurred when a geothermal exploration hole exploded letting off spillage into Kibiro Village in Hoima district.  

The government has been conducting geothermal surveys Which Involved drilling eight temperature gradient holes to exploit geothermal energy at the famous Kibiro hot-springs. However, one of the holes that were being drilled by M/s Royal Techno Industries Limited, exploded on March 29, letting out a waxy mixture containing natural gas, clay, water, drilling mud and limited traces of oil which smelled like gasoline.  

Subsequent examinations of the impact of the spill found that one house located approximately 60 meters downstream from the well towards the lake was surrounded by a mixture of clay, drilling mud and sand, while the pit latrine was filled by mud fluids that flowed from the well.  The access road along the lake shore leading to the neighbouring landing site of Kyabarangwa had residues of mud, clay and sand, while water reeds along the shore of the lake had a black deposit which resembling crude oil, at the water level mark. 

In the aftermath, the ministry of energy announced that it was halting the conducting of detailed surveys from geothermal locations at Kibiro in Hoima district, Panyimur in Pakwach district and Buranga in Bundibugyo district where preliminary surface studies had indicated geothermal reservoirs, until a comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, is conducted.  

The Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Robert Kasande said that although it was not possible to quantify the materials discharged into the environment, the fact that spillage took more than nine hours shows that significant quantities of materials were released into the environment. 

But despite the suspension of activities, the community neighbouring the sites is still living in fear. Many of the residents told URN that they are fearing for their dear lives following the explosion.   According to the residents, the spill poses a risk to their livelihood and health and also threatens the historical hot springs. 

Residents said that the incident was scary because to many, it was the first time to see such a happening. Kibiro Landing Site Chairperson Godfrey Abigaba says that the oily materials that went into the lake could be dangerous to their lives and the fish in the lake, their sole source of livelihood. 

//Cue in; “Gas ekarugayo eka… 

Cue out…Tusaba Gafumenti erugeyo.”//     

John Byamukama, another resident calls for compensation to the residents whose property was destroyed during the explosion. 

//Cue in; “Kandi hanu bintu…

Cue out…Ebintubye byasisikaire Babisasule.”//   

Yusuf Bitagasi, another resident wonders why the government and the contractor never informed or sensitized residents of their activities in the area saying some of them only learnt about the activity after the explosion.    

//Cue in; “Ekintu bakaire nibakora…   

Cue out…Tuli aho Tutikumanya.”// 

Augustus Bikobo another resident calls on the government to make public the investigations report that shows how the spillage occurred and the contents of the spill and also tell the residents the impact of the spillage on waters of the lake, soil and the communities settling around.  

//Cue in; ”Itwe nka bataka… 

Cue out…byomwezi yo muntu.”//  

Vicent Bagonza, also a resident says the spillage that occurred could endanger the critical biodiversity and people’s livelihoods. He wants the Company’s contract terminated for allegedly carrying out the project without the consent of the area residents. 

In January this year, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom opposed a government proposal to establish a geothermal electricity Project at Kibiro hot springs in Hoima district. The hot springs, located 35-kilometres North of Hoima town in Kigorobya Sub County, form a water stream that meanders into Lake Albert. 

The water at the springs is always boiling at 100 degrees and is often used by locals to boil eggs and food like potatoes, cassava and green bananas. It has also been found to contain varying amounts of minerals and chemicals with medicinal value, among them, Sodium chloride, potassium chloride, Lithium Sulphate, calcium sulphate, calcium phosphate, and magnesium chloride.    

According to the Kingdom officials, the project was likely to destroy the site’s ecosystem and frustrate plans to elevate the springs to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation-UNESCO Heritage site.