TEMPO.CO, Balikpapan - State oil company Pertamina denied that the broken oil pipeline resulting in the oil spill in Balikpapan was due to its negligence. The oil spill pollutes the waters of Balikpapan Bay.
“It's too early to say so,” said General Manager of Pertamina Refinery Unit V, Togar MP, on Friday, April 6.
Pertamina RU V is the operator of the oil refinery in Balikpapan. On Thursday, Togar along with the staff of Pertamina RU V attended the invitation from the Balikpapan Council to provide an explanation for the incident occurred on Saturday last week.
Five people have died because of the incident, including a dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), a rare marine mammal that inhabited in the Balikpapan Bay.
Besides, as many as 162 fishing boats and the fishing gears could not be used because it was polluted by the crude oil. The Semayang Port was even closed for two days.
Togar stated that the institution that has the right to declare the negligence is the police as the investigators. “We do not want to argue about that,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) report, the total area affected by the incident reached nearly 13,000 hectares.
The cause of the spill was because Pertamina's underwater pipeline connecting the Crude Lawe-lawe Terminal with the Balikpapan Refinery damaged. The steel pipe with a diameter of 20 inches and thickness of 12 millimeters at a depth of 25 meters was reportedly broken and shifted up to 120 meters from its original position.
Pertamina's Regional Manager Communication and CSR Kalimantan Yudi Nugraha mentioned that the pipeline installed in 1998 was still very feasible. “If there is no tremendous power that strikes, the pipe will not break,” he said.
The latest check of Pertamina’s underwater pipeline was in December 2017 and the subsequent check is in 2019. There was no damage reported at that time.