Recently we have covered numerous stories out of Indonesia from reporting on polluted rivers in Java to plastic littering the beaches of Bali. Now Indonesia must deal with possibly the largest environmental challenge of the last decade. Indonesian authorities have declared a state of emergency over an oil spill becoming an environmental disaster.
Oil Spill now covers an area the size of Paris
On March 31st an underwater pipeline carrying crude oil burst and began leaking oil into Balikpapan Bay in East Kalimantan. The pipeline is operated by the state-owned oil firm Pertamina and a company spokesman volunteered that the oil slick has spread out from Balikpapan Bay into the Strait of Makassar and is now covering nearly 150 square kilometers, equal approximately to the city of Paris. In this area of heavy maritime traffic, it is thought that a passing coal barge caused the pipeline rupture. (photo – Xinhua)
Fishermen Killed, Mangroves Destroyed
Five fishermen helping to clean up the oil, died in a fire sparked during the process and the environmental impact has spread with the oil to endanger many hectares of mangrove forests and causing the death of an endangered Irrawaddy dolphin.
Residents living along the affected coastline and in the city of Balikpapan (with a population of 700,000) have been suffering from nausea and vomiting. Gas masks have been distributed to protect against the acrid fumes and smoke. (photo – Greenpeace)
Some of the surface oil has been skimmed off or dispersed, but the heavier oil has already sunk to the bottom of the bay where it can not be recovered, “the recovery rate for most oil spill cases was never more than 20 percent” said a Greenpeace spokesperson.
Last Friday, Susi Pudjiastuti the Indonesian Maritime Affairs Minister said that “it would take at least six months to clean up the spill.” Read more about the: Indonesian Oil Spill an Environmental Disaster on: CNN and The Jakarta Post.
Update: There doesn’t seem to be an end to Indonesia’s environmental woes. Just reported in The Jakarta Post are the deaths of eleven endangered sea turtles found within a three day period on a beach in East Kalimantan, prompting the provincial administration to declare an “extraordinary event.”
Cause of death, excessive amounts of plastic waste and “asphalt sludge” in their digestive systems.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See These Related Blue Ocean Articles:
How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!
We believe ocean lovers can change the world. If you care about the health of the ocean and want to do something about it, then connect with the Blue Ocean tribe: Our growing community of ocean change-makers is turning ocean lovers into ocean leaders. It starts with you. Join us!