Earth Science News  





. Steel Dam Plan To Plug Indonesian Mud Volcano

Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) May 28, 2007
A massive concrete dam 15 storeys high would be built around Indonesia's disastrous "mud volcano" under the latest proposal to stop toxic sludge spewing from its core, a report said Monday. Indonesian and Japanese engineers have pitched the ambitious plan to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the nation marks one year on Tuesday since the mudspill started, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

The plan, estimated to cost 70 million dollars, is the latest attempt to try to stem the steaming mud that started pouring from the earth after an exploratory gas drilling team pierced a layer of strata.

The flow has engulfed homes, factories and farms over more than 600 hectares (1,500 acres) near Indonesia's second city of Surabaya on main Java island.

Under the plan, the mud building up in the dam would eventually be so heavy that it could act as a counterweight to the sludge trying to emerge from the crater, blocking off the flow, said Tempo magazine, which has a copy of the proposal.

Government officials have said they are studying the plan which was presented to Yudhoyono about a month ago, although they have not released details.

"If this technique is successful, the area will be ready to be rebuilt into a new city. This is the future for the area, according to the civil engineers," the magazine said.

The wall encircling the volcano would be 10 metres (33 feet) thick and 120 metres in diameter, the magazine said. The wall itself would consist of two separate fences of thick steel pipes encased in concrete up to 48 metres high.

The dam would also have a machine to extract water from the mud, with the liquid moving down a massive chute for piping to a nearby river, the magazine said.

Expected to take eight months to build, the dam would also feature a geology museum and a park, estimated to cost 5.6 million dollars.

The plan comes after engineers spent two months trying to plug the volcano by dropping concrete balls on chains into its yawning crater.

The initiative has been suspended and mud building up behind dirt and rock built embankments is being channelled to the river nearby.

It is unclear who will foot the bill for the latest plan if it is given the go-ahead.

Drilling company PT Lapindo Brantas has been blamed for the disaster and the government has ordered it to pay millions of dollars for the cost of containing the mud and providing compensation to the victims.

The government has said it would only pay for the relocation of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, railways and gas and power networks.

earlier related report
Misery For Mud Volcano Victims
Porong, Indonesia (AFP) May 28 - Muziati, a refugee of Indonesia's "mud volcano", stares at her baby and hopes that the meagre food she gives him will be enough. "He has to be fed rice juice (formed during cooking) because there's no milk," Muziati says of conditions in a makeshift shelter in Porong on the main island of Java. "He is small for his age," she adds of her six-month-old boy.

Muziati is among more than 15,000 people who have been forced from their homes across Sidoarjo district in East Java since last year when steaming mud began spewing from the depths of the earth at an exploratory gas well.

One year after the May 29 disaster started, thousands are still living in shelters, and the flow of toxic sludge shows no sign of stopping.

Muziati was three months pregnant last year when she lost her job at a prawncracker factory that was submerged in the massive flow.

Six months later, on the day she gave birth, an embankment, hastily built to contain the hot mud, burst and later swallowed her home.

Muziati, her husband Sudarto and neighbours sought shelter wherever they could before moving to a vacant market building in nearby Porong where they survive on rations of rice from the drilling company blamed for the disaster, Lapindo Brantas.

"Nobody cares enough to even visit us. Not the mayor, not the governor," says Sudarto.

Nine villages, industrial areas and farms over more than 600 hectares (1,500 acres) have been engulfed by the thick mud as authorities grapple with the extent of the disaster.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered Lapindo, an Indonesian firm, to pay 3.8 trillion rupiah (420.7 million dollars) in compensation and mud containment efforts.

But Sudarto and his family have refused an initial cash payment of 20 percent of the value of their homes and land. Like many of the 3,200 sheltering in Porong, they want Lapindo to buy their land so they can rebuild elsewhere. "We are not beggars, we just ask for our rights," says Sudarto who has named their baby David Lapindo -- after the firm, which has links to welfare minister Aburizal Bakrie, one of the nation's richest men.

The disaster has left international engineers scratching their heads and environmentalists fuming about damage to the local ecosystem.

Massive dykes have been built around the volcano to contain the mud, and heavy machinery works overtime carrying dirt and pebbles to strengthen the embankments.

"The dykes are very vulnerable," says security guard Waliyanto pointing to muddy water leaking from the walls around the crater.

Cracks have led to larger leaks, forcing authorities to declare the area off-limits to the public.

The sludge has reached a depth of up to 20 metres in the worst-hit areas with rooftops barely visible. Villages in the outer areas, caked in mud, have been abandoned for safety reasons.

Initiatives to stop the flow have ranged from the scientific to the spiritual.

Engineers spent two months trying to plug the hole with chains of large concrete balls dropped into its core, but the move appears to have failed. Authorities continue to try and channel mud from the dams into a nearby river.

Ahmad Chairusin, 64, arrived at the dykes earlier this month from nearby Kediri town, convinced that he can stop the flow through prayer.

"I fast and pray here twice a day," Chairusin told AFP.

"We should look inwards to ourselves, what have we done wrong (to spark the flow)?" he asks, adding that "the only thing we can do is pray and pray." Others, including healers and mystics, regularly perform rituals at the dykes, make offerings and cast spells.

Despite the efforts, some 120,000 cubic metres of sludge -- equivalent to 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools -- continues to spew daily from the hole, says Ahmad Zulkarnain, a spokesman for the government agency set up to tackle the crisis.

Supari, 40, remembers watching animals and plants die as the mud moved across the district last May. He never thought the flow would reach his village outside Indonesia's second city of Surabaya so quickly.

"The mud spread so fast, it flooded my house before I could save many of my belongings," he says, adding that he fled in the middle of the night with his wife and two sons.

In the chaos, Supari says he left behind the deeds to his home, the documents he needs to prove ownership and gain compensation.

He used to earn four million rupiah a month selling snacks to schools, and sometimes clothing and coal briquettes. But worrying about his family's future now consumes him.

"It's not that there are no jobs now, but I cannot think straight. Riding this motorcycle taxi is all I dare do," says Supari, motioning to the bike.

"I usually get lucky on Sundays, I guide tourists around the mudflow site."

Supari and his family have rented a house nearby and, unlike other residents, refuse to sell their land. "I cannot sell the land, it has been passed down for generations."

earlier related report
Timeline of Indonesia's 'mud volcano' disaster
Sidoarjo (AFP) Indonesia, May 28 - Indonesia's "mud volcano" has been spewing toxic sludge for 12 months in East Java, submerging villages, farms and factories and leaving thousands of people homeless.

Following is a chronology of the events:
May 29, 2006: A team from Lapindo Brantas drilling company notices steam, water and gases in its exploration well in Sidoarjo district on Java island -- Several people reportedly suffer minor respiratory problems from the released hydrogen sulfide gases. School children in the area are sent home

June 2: Around 300 people are evacuated from their homes after mud spews from the well which has been dubbed a volcano and inundates nearby homes

June 10: A major highway linking the East Java capital of Surabaya with the southeast city of Malang closes after the hot sludge reaches part of the road

June 19: Around 4,000 people flee their homes as the mud spreads, and the government says Lapindo caused the disaster -- Lapindo denies the claims, and instead blames a devastating earthquake in Central Java two days earlier for triggering the flow

June 20: Vice President Jusuf Kalla inspects the area and calls on welfare minister Aburizal Bakrie, whose family is linked to the company, to accept some of the responsibility

June 26: Mud covers 116 hectares (286.5 acres), submerging four villages and ricefields and displacing more than 5,600 people

August 10: Lapindo agrees to compensate the now more than 7,600 people displaced

September 12: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono orders formation of a team led by the energy minister to deal with the crisis -- Reports say more than 9,000 people have been displaced

October 17: Lapindo says it will pay 106 million dollars towards cleaning up the mud spill

November 22: An underground gas pipeline explodes killing eight people following subsidence around the nearby volcano. The death toll later rises to 11 with others injured

December 3: Another person injured in the gas explosion dies, taking the toll to 13, after another with severe burns dies three days earlier

December 29: Yudhoyono says Lapindo must pay 3.8 trillion rupiah (420.7 million dollars) in compensation and other costs

January 23, 2007: British experts conclude in a US journal that the volcano appears to have been triggered by drilling at a depth of around 2,830 metres (7,735 feet) below the surface -- It also says the volcano has been disgorging between 7,000 and 150,000 cubic metres (245,000 and 5.25 million cubic feet) of mud a day

February 27: Engineers start dropping chains of large concrete balls into the volcano in a bid to plug it

March 5: Public works minister Joko Kirmanto says attempts to plug the crater and measures to hold back and then divert the spewed mud will cost the government 371 million dollars -- A court says a lawsuit can proceed against the president and other officials for human rights violations over the slow response to the disaster

March 20: The volcano briefly stops for about 30 minutes, the first time in more than nine months, although scientists cannot fully explain why

March 24: A police probe into the cause of the disaster declares it has 13 suspects, all Lapindo executives or field workers of the company

March 31: The dropping of concrete balls into the crater is suspended

April 12: A report from the government's National Development Planning Agency says losses could rise to 44.7 trillion rupiah unless the volcano stops flowing

May 11: A satellite image obtained by Kompas daily newspaper shows the mud covers an area of 692 hectares (1,709.97 acres)

earlier related report
Timeline of Indonesia's 'mud volcano' disaster
Sidoarjo (AFP) Indonesia, May 28 - Indonesia's "mud volcano" has been spewing toxic sludge for 12 months in East Java, submerging villages, farms and factories and leaving thousands of people homeless.

Following is a chronology of the events:
May 29, 2006: A team from Lapindo Brantas drilling company notices steam, water and gases in its exploration well in Sidoarjo district on Java island -- Several people reportedly suffer minor respiratory problems from the released hydrogen sulfide gases. School children in the area are sent home

June 2: Around 300 people are evacuated from their homes after mud spews from the well which has been dubbed a volcano and inundates nearby homes

June 10: A major highway linking the East Java capital of Surabaya with the southeast city of Malang closes after the hot sludge reaches part of the road

June 19: Around 4,000 people flee their homes as the mud spreads, and the government says Lapindo caused the disaster -- Lapindo denies the claims, and instead blames a devastating earthquake in Central Java two days earlier for triggering the flow

June 20: Vice President Jusuf Kalla inspects the area and calls on welfare minister Aburizal Bakrie, whose family is linked to the company, to accept some of the responsibility

June 26: Mud covers 116 hectares (286.5 acres), submerging four villages and ricefields and displacing more than 5,600 people

August 10: Lapindo agrees to compensate the now more than 7,600 people displaced

September 12: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono orders formation of a team led by the energy minister to deal with the crisis -- Reports say more than 9,000 people have been displaced

October 17: Lapindo says it will pay 106 million dollars towards cleaning up the mud spill

November 22: An underground gas pipeline explodes killing eight people following subsidence around the nearby volcano. The death toll later rises to 11 with others injured

December 3: Another person injured in the gas explosion dies, taking the toll to 13, after another with severe burns dies three days earlier

December 29: Yudhoyono says Lapindo must pay 3.8 trillion rupiah (420.7 million dollars) in compensation and other costs

January 23, 2007: British experts conclude in a US journal that the volcano appears to have been triggered by drilling at a depth of around 2,830 metres (7,735 feet) below the surface -- It also says the volcano has been disgorging between 7,000 and 150,000 cubic metres (245,000 and 5.25 million cubic feet) of mud a day

February 27: Engineers start dropping chains of large concrete balls into the volcano in a bid to plug it

March 5: Public works minister Joko Kirmanto says attempts to plug the crater and measures to hold back and then divert the spewed mud will cost the government 371 million dollars -- A court says a lawsuit can proceed against the president and other officials for human rights violations over the slow response to the disaster

March 20: The volcano briefly stops for about 30 minutes, the first time in more than nine months, although scientists cannot fully explain why

March 24: A police probe into the cause of the disaster declares it has 13 suspects, all Lapindo executives or field workers of the company

March 31: The dropping of concrete balls into the crater is suspended

April 12: A report from the government's National Development Planning Agency says losses could rise to 44.7 trillion rupiah unless the volcano stops flowing

May 11: A satellite image obtained by Kompas daily newspaper shows the mud covers an area of 692 hectares (1,709.97 acres)

Source: Agence France-Presse

Email This Article

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Chinese Space Agency Joins The International Charter Space And Major Disasters
Paris (ESA) May 28, 2007
The China National Space Administration has become the newest member of the International Charter 'Space and Major Disasters', a joint initiative that works to provide emergency response satellite data free of charge to those affected by disasters anywhere in the world.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Steel Dam Plan To Plug Indonesian Mud Volcano
  • Chinese Space Agency Joins The International Charter Space And Major Disasters
  • LSU And Los Alamos Team Up To Improve Evacuation Plans
  • GeoOptics Announces 100-Spacecraft Array to Deliver Critical Hurricane And Climate Data

  • India Rejects Greenhouse Gas Limits
  • Pelosi Non-Committal On Climate As Germany Increasingly Frustrated By US Policy
  • Yangtze Flood Alert As Tibetan Glaciers Melt
  • US Clash With G8 Partners Looms Over Climate Issues

  • Tracking A Hot Spot In The Center Of The Biggest Ocean On Earth
  • MetOp-A Takes Up Service
  • General Dynamics Awarded Contract For NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission Study
  • ESA Presents The Sharpest Ever Satellite Map Of Earth

  • Kuwait To Splash Out On Power Projects As Cuts Loom
  • Follow The Green Brick Road
  • Indian Businessman Capitalizes On Global Warming Concerns
  • California Eco-Homes Offer Glimpse Of Lunar Future

  • System To Pinpoint Airline Passengers Who Contaminate Cabins
  • Lab Confirms Deadly Fish Virus Spreading To New Species
  • Scientists Concerned About Effects Of Global Warming On Infectious Diseases
  • AIDS Remains Global Worry

  • Researchers Probe The Tiny Building Blocks Of Bones
  • Ants Show Us How To Make Super-Highways
  • New Wrinkle In Evolution With Man-Made Proteins
  • Professor Helps Develop Techniques To Reduce Threat Against Honeybees

  • Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova Choking On Toxic Waste
  • Serious Health Risk In Naples Area As Garbage System Backs Up
  • Beijing To Turn Garbage Into Power
  • Pollution And Chemicals Blamed For Massive Cancer Rate Risa Across China

  • Color Vision Drove Primates To Develop Red Skin And Hair
  • Northrop Grumman Dedicates Habitat For Humanity House
  • Exercise Reverses Aging In Human Skeletal Muscle
  • Sweden Mulls Freeze-Drying As New Burial Method

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement