Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Villagers accuse ceramics factory of contaminating local wells

Source: The Jakarta Post 13/7/2004

Multa Fidrus, Tangerang

Villagers from Curug Kulon in Tangerang say the waste from ceramics producer PT Karemindo is polluting their wells.

A villager, Syaiful, said the water in all wells around the company premises had turned whitish and was not safe for consumption.

The residents took a sample of the groundwater from the wells and brought it to the Tangerang tap water company PDAM Tirta Kerta Raharja (TKR) for a laboratory test.

The test revealed the water sample was contaminated with dangerous levels of ammonia, manganese and calcium, which exceeded the safety standards as stipulated in the Minister of Health Decree No. 907/2002.

Syaiful said none of the villagers had so far suffered from any illnesses likely to have been caused by consuming the water. Some long-term effects from drinking the polluted water include osteoporosis and internal organ damage.

Residents said they made their concerns clear to the company management on May 27 but it had done nothing to rectify the problem.

"The management had promised to supply clean water for us as compensation but it did not happen. Finally, we decided to buy clean water from PDAM TKR," Syaiful said over the weekend.

The residents called for the regency to mediate with them and company management to find an amicable solution.

"If we don't get any response from the administration, we plan to stage a massive rally and file complaints with the regency environmental agency," he said.

When contacted, regency secretary Nanang Komara only said the administration had set up a team assigned to list industrial firms that did not have proper documents for their environmental impact analysis.

PT Karemindo executives could not be reached for comment.

However, the company's chief of security, Hartono, denied the accusations.

"I have summoned and questioned 30 residents. They claimed they never signed any statements saying their wells were contaminated by factory waste," Hartono told The Jakarta Post.

"We suspect certain individuals have tried to discredit this firm," he said. The firm had already undertaken an environmental impact study and had a proper waste treatment facility, Hartono said.