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Indonesia delays plans to divert mudflow into river SIDOARJO - Indonesian disaster crews were forced to abandon plans Thursday to begin diverting millions of tons of mud from an industrial accident into a nearby river because of problems with a new pumping system, an official said. The runaway mudflow, sparked by a gas exploration drilling accident in East Java province last May, now covers more than 400 hectares, has drowned several villages, a highway, and displaced more than 12,000 people.

With few alternatives to stop it, the Jakarta government gave the go-ahead for crews to use an industrial-size pump to divert more than 125,000 cubic metres of mud into the Porong River despite uncertain environmental consequences. But Rudi Novrianto, spokesman for the government's national mudflow disaster team, said workers were having trouble adjusting the pump, whose engine is capable of sucking up 1,500 cubic metres of mud per hour.

'We're very optimistic that by Saturday the pump will be operational,' he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, adding that the mud will flow through a 1-kilometre pipe into the river. Novrianto said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would inspect the disaster area in Sidoarjo, East Java, on Sunday, enabling the emergency team to give him an up-to-the-minute report of the pumping operation.

Authorities had attempting to stop the mud by building several damns and embankments, but the walls continue to collapse in the face of the approaching mud. The disaster has become even more controversial because the government was slow in responding to the accident, only appointing a special team last month. In addition, the company that owns the exploration well, Lapindo Brantas Inc., is owned by the family conglomerate of Aburizal Bakrie, minister for people's welfare.

Tons of hot mud has been oozing out from a hole that blew out near the well site, completely inundating hundreds of homes, buildings, cars, roads and other property. Government officials have given conflicting statements on whether the mud posed health or environmental hazards, but now say it is not toxic. 'We don't expect any environmental impact' from dumping the mud into the river, Novrianto told dpa.

The global environmental group Greenpeace has taken samples of the mud and water flowing out from the ground and was awaiting results. The group says no one can predict the environmental impact of dumping tons of mud into the river. '(Lapindo) must be held accountable for what happens, including compensating the victims and rehabilitating the environment,' Nur Hidayati, a Greenpeace Southeast Asia official in Jakarta, told dpa.

On Thursday morning, local residents swarmed to the riverbank to scoop up thousands of fish that were floating and flailing on the water's surface as if they were 'drunk,' according to Detik.com on-line news portal. The news service said it did not know whether the incident was related to teams previously pumping small amounts of mud into the river in recent days. Lapindo has given thousands of displaced families money to rent new homes for two years and for basic needs, but has not yet compensated them for lost and damaged property.


Link to related event Related event:
Sidoarjo mudflow

Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow') Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow'):
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27 September 2006 · Protesters pour 700 kg of mud outside Aburizal's office
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26 September 2006 · Indonesia mudflow breaks barriers, injures six
12 September 2006 · Mystery mud swallowing villages
10 September 2006 · The gray ooze that ate the villages
07 August 2006 · Indonesia bans militants from going to Mideast


Posted in Sidoarjo mudflow @ 06 October 2006 04:36 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





Yerun
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I hope they can make it in something of a tourist attraction so the people who basicaly lost their entire lives can be paid to get started somewhere else.



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