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Crude oil suspected to be from Pertamina operation contaminates Thousand Islands... again

Yuliasri Perdani and Budi Sutrisno

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, August 13, 2020  /  06:30 am
Crude oil suspected to be from Pertamina operation contaminates Thousand Islands... again

Public facility workers collect coagulated oil found on the shore of Pari Island of the Thousand Islands regency on Aug. 11, 2020. (Thousand Islands Environment Agency/kompas.com/-)

Crude oil waste that allegedly leaked from an offshore operation by state-owned energy giant Pertamina has again contaminated the waters of the Thousand Islands regency in Jakarta.

On Tuesday morning, residents of Pari Island worked together to clean up the clotted oil waste along the coast. They said they had seen the oil in the waters of Pari and Lancang islands since Friday.

The residents suspected the crude oil waste had leaked from Pertamina's drilling operation in Indramayu and Karawang in West Java.

“Seeing the currents, the crude oil waste likely originated from the east, to be precise, Karawang waters where oil drilling points are located,” Pari Island Care Forum (FP3) chairman Mustahgfirin said in a statement.

He estimated that the oil waste had polluted 2 kilometers of the southern coast of Pari Island. If collected, he said, the waste could reach 50 tons.

Pari residents said such pollution had regularly occurred in recent years, especially in the month of August along with easterly currents and winds.

When oil spilled from an exploration well called YYA-1 north of Karawang last year, the Thousand Islands administration said the spill had reached seven of its southern islands. Pari was one of them, Mustahgfirin said.

Pari residents have raised concerns over the impacts of oil pollution on marine organisms, which the residents depend on for their livelihoods.

An FP3 member, Edi Mulyono, said the majority of Pari residents were fishermen, some of whom cultivated seaweed and grouper fish.

“The grouper fish that eat the crude oil will die of poisoning, and if the waste sticks to the seaweed blades, they will burn and turn to white,” Edi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Read also: Pertamina cleans beaches in Balikpapan of possible oil pollution

Edi said the residents had reached out to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, but they were told to contact the Environment and Forestry Ministry instead.

Pari residents demanded that both ministries and related agencies investigate the oil waste and take action to prevent more pollution in the years to come, Mustahgfirin said.

The head campaigner for energy and urban issues of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Dwi Sawung, said Walhi would report to relevant ministers, especially the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, which would conduct a fingerprint test of the oil waste.

“I cannot confirm if the oil waste is from YYA-1 because there is no test yet, but it came from the direction of Pertamina’s Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) Block,” Dwi said.

Dwi said that in past cases, the government had tested the oil waste but had never disclosed the test results to the public.

He also said that after last year’s oil spill, Pertamina provided operational funds for cleaning activities in the Thousand Islands but did not provide compensation for affected residents.

“Residents need compensation, but the most important thing is to make sure such incidents will not happen again. Is there no penalty for the party responsible or cessation of operations?” Dwi said.

Pertamina Hulu Energi (PHE) spokesman Ifki Sukarya said the company had deployed a team to do a three-day cleanup with the Thousand Islands Environment Agency and take a sample for a fingerprint test.

He said the YYA-1 well had been closed since September last year, and the Transportation Ministry’s Sea Transportation Directorate General had also ended the YYA-1 oil spill emergency status in July this year.

“We do not know where this spill came from. We will make sure to mobilize all subsidiaries to check in the field,” Ifki said on Wednesday.

PHE media and relations manager Yudy Nugraha said the company has been assisting the Thousand Islands administration to clean up the coagulated oil waste seen in the waters and beaches of some of the islands in the regency recently.

“The PHE OSES has been assisting the local administration and coordinating with local authorities and the community to clean up the oil spill,” he told The Post on Thursday.

Editor’s note

The article has been updated to include the latest statement from Pertamina Hulu Energi (PHE) that the company is actively involved in the oil cleanup with local authorities.

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