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Indonesia mudflow breaks barriers, injures six SIDOARJO - Barriers built to control a torrent of mud gushing out from an exploratory oil well in Indonesia failed to hold late on Monday, injuring six workers and inundating nearby villages. Several experts have said the mudflow, which started to spurt in late May, could have been triggered by a crack about 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) deep in East Java province's Banjar Panji well.

However, a group of international scientists said this week the mudflow might be a natural phenomenon that could be impossible to stop. The mud has swamped four villages over an area larger than Monaco, displacing more than 10,000 people and highlighting the chequered environmental practices in exploiting resources in Indonesia.

The Monday night barrier breaches had been predicted by hundreds of villagers living near the sand-and-gravel dykes who fled the area last week. But, several site workers who stayed in the abandoned houses failed to anticipate the flood. "Around 9 p.m. (1400 GMT), I heard thunder and my bed shook. When I woke up, hot mud was already knee deep," said escavator operator Effendi, who suffered bruises. The surge injured five of his colleagues. One had burns from waist to ankle.

In Jakarta, European scientists said the flow might be coming from an emerging mud volcano. The Media Indonesia daily newspaper on Tuesday quoted geologist Adriano Mazzini from Norway's Oslo University saying the burst might be unstoppable and that guessing the timing of the flows and their possible end could be impossible. That theory has been raised before by a few Indonesian scientists and those working for well operator PT Lapindo Brantas Inc. which disputes the mud is directly connected with the drilling operation at its Banjar Panji well.

Engineers hired by Lapindo, including U.S. and Australian experts, have failed to stop the flow of around 50,000 cubic metres (1.75 million cubic feet) of hot mud every day. The ongoing crisis has forced the local government in East Java province to allow the channeling of the muddy water into a nearby river, despite concerns it could pollute the ocean, a source of income for millions living on Java's eastern coast.

"We are racing against time. The rainy season is near and we must reduce the pressure against the dykes," Sidoarjo deputy regent Syaiful Illah told Reuters. Jakarta officials want to remove the water from the mud, treat it and then allow it to flow into the sea through a 20 km (12 mile) pipeline which may take months to be approved.


Link to related event Related event:
Sidoarjo mudflow

Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow') Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow'):
12 September 2006 · Mystery mud swallowing villages
10 September 2006 · The gray ooze that ate the villages
04 September 2006 · Mud-hit area closed due to risk of explosion
12 August 2006 · Mud may force Sidoarjo residents out for good
11 August 2006 · No end in sight to Sidoarjo mudflow


Posted in Sidoarjo mudflow @ 26 September 2006 11:06 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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