The Jakarta Post
Environment watchdog Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) is calling on the government to immediately stop illegal crude oil drilling activities in Aceh, following a fire at an illegal oil well in Peureulak, East Aceh, early on Wednesday that killed 11 people.
WALHI Aceh director M. Nur said his group had reported the illegal crude oil exploration activities in Peureulak to local administrations a long time ago.
However, the authorities have tended to play down their complaints so that the illegal wells continue to operate until today.
“Since 2012, we have called on the government to close down the illegal exploration activities because they are dangerous and have polluted the environment. However, the mining activities conducted in the name of people have continued to take place,” Nur told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
The environmentalist further said Aceh had two illegal crude oil drilling locations, namely in Peureulak and in Bireun. The two sites still operated even though in 2016 an oil well in Bireuen was set ablaze. No fatalities were reported in that incident.
Nur deplored the Aceh administration for not taking tough measures against illegal oil exploration activities that were dangerous to residents living in the surrounding areas. Drilling activities in the illegal wells were conducted without clear regulations and adequate safety equipment.
Citing an example, Nur said, many workers smoked as they carried out drilling activities. They were also not supplied with safety equipment, posing dangers to the drillers themselves and people nearby. (ebf)