Greenpeace demands Pertamina take responsibility for oil spill

The Jakarta Post 9 Apr 18;

International environmental group Greenpeace has demanded that state oil and gas company Pertamina take full responsibility and come up with a transparent and comprehensive plan to address a recent oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, which has killed five people and posed health and environmental hazards in the area.

The government reported that the spill had spread across around 12,900 hectares of fishing waters, larger than the size of Bogor city in West Java.

On April 4, Pertamina admitted that the spill came from its leaked undersea pipelines, connecting the Lawe-Lawe Terminal to their refinery unit in Balikpapan.

“The statement alone is not enough. As a priority, Greenpeace urges Pertamina to take full responsibility and be held accountable for the oil spill and all its impacts. The Indonesian government must now prioritize recovery efforts, as well as implement long-term measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” Greenpeace Southeast Asia oceans campaigner Arifsyah Nasution said in a release made available over the weekend.

Yudi Tobs from Coalition Against Oil Spills (KMPTM) said his group regretted the "poor action" taken by Pertamina. "The company failed to warn authorities and communities when the incident happened," he said in the same release.

The coalition planned to take legal action, he added. "According to Indonesian Law No. 32 on environmental protection and management, Pertamina should take full responsibility. Polluters should pay!” Yudi said.

The government has come to Pertamina's defense, saying that there was no human error on the part of Pertamina, as the event was triggered by the action of a foreign coal vessel that illegally passed through and dropped anchor in the bay.

Pertamina has been cleaning the bay and the Makassar Strait since last week. On April 8, Balikpapan environmental agency official Suryanto said the cleaning process had reached 90 percent toward completion. (evi)

Bay almost cleaned after oil spill: Balikpapan official
N. Adri The Jakarta Post 18 Apr 18;

On the sixth day after a large amount of crude oil was spilled in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, the cleaning efforts are almost done, the head of the Environmental Agency in Balikpapan, Suryanto, said Sunday.

He claimed that the cleaning process had reached 90 percent and that the remaining oil was still in the coastal areas.

Suryanto added that the clean-up would end next week, vowing that the coastal and residential areas would be clean. “I’m sure we will finish this in a week at the maximum.”

Since Friday, the waters around Semayang Port have returned to its bright green color and there were no black spots.

“There is actually a thin film of oil. We have localized it with an oil-boom,” said an officer with state-owned oil and gas company PT Pertamina who requested anonymity.

The cleaning personnel corralled the oil between Semayang Port and Pertamina’s jetty where there is a small bay.

The cleaning process involved vacuuming the oil slick into a truck and transferring it to drums. The thin film of oil will be hosed down with a dispersant to make it dissolve.

The same method was applied in Kampung Atas Air Margasari, where oil covered mangrove trees and the columns of residents’ stilted houses.

Pertamina has deployed 21 ships to clean the bay, Makassar Strait in Balikpapan and Penajam Paser Utara. “We have deployed 234 people,” Pertamina Balikpapan spokesperson Alicia Irzanova said.

The ships are working in four designated zones: Pertamina’s Jetty 1 to Kampung Baru, including Kampung Atas Air Margasari; Semayang Port pond; Monpera Beach and the waters of Makassar Strait to the north. The last zone is the estuary in Balikpapan Bay.

The cleaning operation is a joint effort by Pertamina, private oil companies Chevron Indonesia and Petrosea.

On March 31, an oil spill caused a fire that killed five people. After the spill, Pertamina denied responsibility, saying that the spill was marine fuel oil and not crude oil.

Pertamina’s general manager for Refinery Unit V, Togar MP, said on the day of the spill and the fire that Pertamina had checked their undersea pipes connecting the Lawe-Lawe terminal and the Refinery Unit V and had found no leakage.

On April 4, at a press conference along with the police, Togar changed his statement and said the oil spill was in fact crude oil from a leakage in the pipelines connecting the Lawe-Lawe terminal and their refinery unit.

On April 5, Jakarta came to Pertamina’s defense, saying that the burst undersea pipe had not been Pertamina’s fault.

“The pipe was allegedly dragged by an anchor dropped by a vessel, though no vessel was permitted to drop anchor or even pass through the bay,” Djoko Siswanto, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s oil and gas director general, told reporters. (evi)

Pertamina strives to tackle remains of oil spill
The Jakarta Post 10 Apr 18;

State-owned oil and gas company Pertamina continues to monitor the waters of Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, to detect any remains of a recent oil spill.

Pertamina is concentrating on six areas of the bay in its cleanup: the jetty area, Semayang to Balikpapan Plaza, Kampung Atas Air to Kampung Ulu Baru, Penajam, Balikpapan Bay and Kariangau.

"Pertamina has three patrol boats in zones 1, 2 and 3," Kalimantan regional communication manager Yudy Nugraha said on Monday as quoted by Tempo.co. "Several boats are also on standby, consisting of seven tugboats, three barges and four aluminum boats."

On March 31, a burst undersea Pertamina pipe - connecting the company's Lawe-Lawe Terminal to its refinery in Balikpapan - caused an oil spill across 12,900 hectares of the bay. An ensuing fire resulted in the deaths of five people.

(Read also: Police question 22 witnesses in relation to Balikpapan oil spill)

Yudy claimed the Balikpapan waters appeared to be clean. "We still need to clean remaining layers of oil," he said. "We also need to clean oil-covered plants near residential areas."

Of the six locations, the jetty area was almost completely clean by Sunday, he said. "But we are still conducting patrols and cleaning the remaining pockets of oil and the thin layers."

According to Yudy, the waters and coastal areas in the Semayang-Balikpapan Plaza area looked clean. A film of oil remains in Kampung Atas Air while the Kariangau coast cleanup was in progress.

Pertamina claims that the Penajam and Balikpapan Bay areas have been clean since Friday. "However, boats will continue to patrol four times a day," Yudy said. (kmt/ebf)

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