Indonesian Company Admits to Causing Oil Spill the Size of Paris in Borneo


A March 31 oil spill in Borneo that stemmed from a pipeline run by state-owned company Pertamina is now the size of the city of Paris.

Pertamina tried to be slick by denying responsibility for the disaster. But a report released on April 4 by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry forced the East Kalimantan Province-based firm to admit that one of its crude oil pipes caused the spill to spread 130 square kilometers (50 square miles) from Balikpapan Bay to the Strait of Makassar.

According to EcoWatch, Pertamina general manger Togar M.P. said, “our preliminary investigation had indicated that the oil was ship fuel, but it was only until [the evening of April 3] that we got confirmation that it was from us. Ever since the incident was discovered, we have shut down the pipes.”

The incident is reportedly the cause of the deaths of five fishermen, an endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (orcaella brevirostris), as well as health problems among thousands of people in Balikpapan.

A state of emergency was declared on April 3, warning residents not to light up a cigarette nearby and handing out gas masks.

The East Kalimantan police and Pertamina are working together to investigate the cause of the spill, and a criminal prosecution may be pursued.

A number of oil booms have been set up to contain the more than 18,300 gallons of oil collected last Tuesday evening.

Featured Images via Flickr / (Left): glennhurowitz (CC BY-ND 2.0) | (Right): Twitter / Sutopo_PN