Footing Bill for Environmental Damage from Pertamina Oil Spill
20 April 2018 08:40 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Greenomics Indonesia, a social institution which focuses on environmental economics, had put a number on the amount of losses which resulted from the crude oil spill from a Pertamina pipeline which passes along the bottom of Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, on Saturday three weeks ago.
A Director-General of Law Enforcement of the Environment and Forestry Ministry Royas Rasio Ridho Sani is known was angry because Greenomics had come up with the figure prematurely. He was concerned that this would make things more difficult for the Environment Ministry, which was in the process of calculating the damage to the environment which had resulted from the Pertamina oil spill. "If our demands are lower than the figure from Greenomics, there will be an uproar," said Roy in his office at the Environment Ministry in Jakarta. On the other hand, if the figure reached by the Ministry is higher, Roy is concerned that the difference could be exploited to reduce the credibility of their calculation.
Read: A Chaotic Oil Cleanup at Balikpapan Bay
In their release on Wednesday last week, Greenomics stated that the Pertamina oil spill in the waters of Balikpapan Bay was equivalent to an area 20,000 times larger than Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta. The minimum amount of ecological damage was said to be US$8.27 billion, or about Rp110.428 trillion at a US dollar exchange rate of Rp13,700. Their calculation used a benefit transfer approach which referred to the monetary value of several of the main components of the maritime and mangrove ecosystem. "This calculation used an international standard of methodology to quickly provide an initial estimate," said Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia.
Vanda¡'s estimate came two weeks after government investigators and experts of the Environment and Forestry Ministry had begun to scour Balikpapan Bay and vicinity. The investigators took seawater and sediment samples from 18 points over a span of two weeks. Seawater samples were taken from 15 locations and sediment samples were taken from three locations. In addition to taking samples, investigators and experts examined conditions on land in the city of Balikpapan and at the North Penajam Paser Regency, two areas which are separated by Balikpapan Bay. Investigators required water and sediment samples in order to measure the level of pollution and environmental damage.
Read: Dark Debacle in Balikpapan Bay
and: Walhi Outlines Economic Ecological Impact of Pertamina Oil Spill
The impact of the spill was also assessed by the Environment Ministry starting on Saturday three weeks ago. The area was scanned just an hour after a coal cargo ship sailing under the flag of Panama, the MV EverJudger, caught fire in Balikpapan Bay. "At that time the closest team was in Samarinda," said Roy. In order to search a larger area, the Environment Ministry wanted to use a large fixed-wing drone to capture images of the sea from the atmosphere. "Unfortunately, we were not authorized to fly because it was in a civil aviation area." The bay is indeed close to flight routes around Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan.
How much will Pertamina have to pay due to this disaster? Pertamina Company Secretary Adiatma Sardjito said that the company is still focusing on cleaning up the oil spill. Pertamina, according to him, has not yet calculated the potential losses resulting from the oil spill and other burdens. "We are still focusing on social and environmental recovery," said Adiatma, on Friday last week.
Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine