Indonesia declares state of emergency as oil spill spreads

Indonesia declares state of emergency as oil spill spreads

Balikpapan city secretary Sayid Fadli said that the city on the island of Borneo was in its third day of a state of emergency following the weekend spill around Semayang Port.

THE Indonesian government has launched an investigation into a major oil spill in Borneo amid reports linking the incident to the deaths of four fishermen and an endangered dolphin.

Around 1,200 people in the Penajam North Penajam Paser sub-district reported symptoms of nausea, vomiting and breathing problems.

The company initially said the disaster had nothing to do with its nearby refinery or undersea pipelines that run across the bay, noting that its own tests on oil spill samples found marine fuel oil used for ships, not crude oil.

The oil leaking from the broken steel pipe caused a fire at a fishing boat and a ship carrying coal at its stern on Saturday. Cleanup efforts are under way, and Balikpapan Port Authority said Wednesday that about 15,000 barrels of oil have been recovered so far.

Local fishermen, however, have refused to accept Manuring's explanation and plan to hold a demonstration later today against the lack of responsibility shown by the Indonesian Government and Pertamina.


"We have asked the team as well as Pertamina to prioritise the cleaning of oil spills in residential areas due to the stench and other potential risks", said Environment Minister Nurbaya Bakar.

The environment ministry said the oil covered an area of almost 13,000 hectares and had polluted 60km of coastal ecosystems, including mangrove wetlands and marine mammal habitats.

Pertamina's general manager for Refinery Unit V Togar Manuring, however, has denied that the oil company is responsible for the spill.

"At the time it was bad weather, so they had to drop anchor", Siswanto said, noting it was an area where ships were not supposed to anchor. Oil spills, however, are much rarer.

The manager of the company's refinery in Balikpapan previously reported that the spill was heavy fuel oil, not Pertamina's crude.

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