A team of 13 lawmakers recently inspected containers of toxic waste currently being kept at Batu Ampar Port, Batam, Riau Islands, that are set to be returned to their countries of origin, and were shocked to find that half the contents of one container was missing.
The discovery triggered suspicion among lawmakers in the House of Representatives Commission III that oversees environmental issues.
“We don’t know what is missing from this container. It might be a large amount of drugs. We know what the situation has been in Batam since the 1990s. Containers enter Batam that contain things no one knows about,” Wenny Warrow, one of the lawmakers, told The Jakarta Post.
She called on the National Police and other central government’s institutions to launch an investigation into the missing content of the container.
She questioned the seriousness of those responsible for overseeing the issue, as the content had gone missing despite supposedly being under supervision. “How could this be? We also do not know how much toxic waste has entered Batam,” Wenny said.
Meanwhile, Batam Customs Office head Susila Brata said his office would investigate the disappearance of content from the container. Susila witnessed the opening of the container, along with the lawmakers.
The Batam Customs Office is working to return 49 containers of toxic waste to their countries of origin under a recommendation from the Environment and Forestry Ministry.
The containers were supposed to contain only plastic scrap, but upon inspection it was discovered that they also contained trash and dangerous toxic waste.
The containers landed in Batam from several countries in Europe as well as Australia, Hong Kong and the United States. The importers were given 90 days to return the containers, starting from the date they arrived in Batam.
The containers are owned by four companies, PT Wiraraja Plastic, PT Tanindo, PT Royal Citra Bersama and PT Cakra Abadi.
Batam's submission and information service (BLKI) head Sumarna said the Customs Office had finished its examination and was ready to return the containers. He said 29 containers came from the US, 11 from Hong Kong, nine from Germany, two from France and one from Australia.
“The requests to return the containers has been processed. All of the importers have made a request and we have interviewed them. Everything was done by Friday and we are writing the conclusion,” Sumarna said. (gis/bbn)