The proposed Lamu coal-fired power plant would be a major point source of air pollution in Kenya with potentially significant impacts on the surrounding communities and ecosystems.
This case study provides a detailed analysis of the air quality and health impacts of the proposed Lamu coal-fired plant, combining detailed atmospheric modeling with existing epidemiological data and literature. The impacts were modeled over a 1500km x 1500km domain covering Kenya and parts of the surrounding areas.
The emissions from the planned Lamu power plant would
• Elevate the levels of toxic particles and NO2 in the air over Lamu and beyond, increasing the risk of diseases such as stroke, lung cancer, heart and respiratory diseases in adults, as well as respiratory infections in children. This leads to premature deaths from these causes. SO2, NOx and dust emissions contribute to toxic particle exposure.
• Cause acid rain, which can affect crops and soils.
• Cause fallout of toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, nickel, chrome, lead and mercury.
There are an estimated 460,000 people living in areas where the plant would cause notable increases in pollution levels.
The planned Lamu coal-fired power plant is more likely to result in approximately 27 (present day) and 43 (2030) premature deaths per year due to exposure to PM2.5 and NO2, including deaths of infants due to an increased risk of respiratory infections. The would be a projected 20 low birth weight births per year associated with the pollution from the plant. Over an operating life of 40 years, this would translate to approximately 1,600 premature deaths and 800 low birth weight births.
There is a risk of acid rain and deposition of heavy metals being significant issues up to 50km to the north and 20km to the west from the Lamu plant. Approximately 22% of the projected fly ash deposition, or 110 tonnes per year, and 24% of the acid deposition, or 2000 tonnes per year, would take place into critical and legally protected habitats. Download the research report here