INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: East Java Mudflow Update: Operational Funds Disbursed;

Published: Fri 7 Dec 2007 08:41 AM
VZCZCXRO6039
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0087 3410841
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070841Z DEC 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0128
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0058
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0056
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0114
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0131
UNCLAS SURABAYA 000087
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR EAP/MTS AND EB/ESC/IEC
DEPT FOR DS/IP/EAP
DOE FOR CUTLER/PI-32 AND NAKANO/PI-42
COMMERCE FOR USDOC 4430
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ENIV EPET ELAP ENRG PGOV ASEC ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA MUDFLOW UPDATE: OPERATIONAL FUNDS DISBURSED;
VICTIMS PROTEST; HEAVY RAINS BEGIN
REF: Surabaya 80 and previous
This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.
1. (SBU) Summary: Members of the Sidoarjo Mud Management Agency
(BPLS) oversight body visited the site of the mudflow to access
operations and set a deadline of 2008 for effective mitigation
of the problems caused by the mud. The central government
disbursed Rp 500 Qlion (USD 55 million) to the BPLS to fund
operations. Victims of the mud staged peaceful protests in Bali
and Sidoarjo demanding compensation. Work on relocation of the
rail track through Porong began December 3. The first heavy
rains in the Surabaya area slowed work at the mudflow site but
did not cause any breaks in the earthen dams. End Summary.
BPLS Sets Deadlines, Gets Funds
-----------------------------------
2. (SBU) Soffian Hadi, BPLS Mitigation Manager, confirmed to us
on December 7 that members of the BPLS oversight body had
visited the site and reviewed the situation in the Porong river
and surrounding areas. Contrary to media reports suggesting
that the oversight body had set a deadline of 2008 to "kill the
mud," Soffian said that they body had established a deadline of
2008 to reduce the problems caused by the mudflow. This
directive included improving the performance of the system which
channels mud into the Porong River.
3. (SBU) Soffian added that the central government had disbursed
Rp 500 billion (USD 55 million) from the state budget for BPLS
operations December 5. Soffian noted that, according to
regulation, these funds could only be used until the end of
December 2007 -- "of course, we can't do that." BPLS has
therefore strongly recommended to Jakarta that BPLS be given
sufficient time (until April 2008) to use the funding.
Peaceful Protests
------------------
4. (SBU) On December 4, 25 victims of the Sidoarjo mudflow
traveled to Bali to stage a protest at the offices of Medco
Energy, a Lapindo investor, during the ongoing UN Climate
Control Conference (COP-13). According to local police
contacts, the protestors demanded that Medco Energy also be held
responsible for the disaster, which they called an environmental
crime. The group took several bicycles assigned to Medco Energy
COP-13 delegates, but the police made no arrests.
5. (U) On December 6, two hundred demonstrators protested at the
offices of PT Minarak in Sidoarjo demanding their 20%
compensation payments, according to press reports. The
protestors insisted they had submitted all necessary
documentation supporting their claims in September, but had yet
to receive any compensQn. PT Minarak's compensation
coordinator met with the protestors. She pledged to pay the
outstanding compensation claims within two days, assuming all of
the paperwork was in order.
And the Rains Came Down~.
---------------------------------
6. (SBU) Heavy rains came to the Surabaya/Sidoarjo area
December 3, causing street flooding in the city of Surabaya. A
BPLS official told us that the heavy rains had turned access
roads around the site into mud, slowing down BPLS operations.
Although the mud ponds were full of water, the earthen dams had
not experienced any breaches. BPLS plans to build a new
drainage ditch running between the containment dams and the
railway to prevent flooding of the railroad. BPLS expressed
confidence that the existing dams' foundations would not be
undermined by the new drainage ditch despite its proximity. The
heavy rain temporarily increased the Porong River's flow to 160
cubic meters per second, but river sedimentation remains a
problem.
MCCLELLAND
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