04/23/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Porong mudflow could paralyse transportation in East Java

by Mathias Hariyadi
A new mudflow erupts in the Lapindo Brantas Inc fields. The latest flow threatens a major road and railway line. The authorities sound the alarm because the mud is highly “flammable” and thick.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A new mudflow erupted early this week in Porong, in East Java Province, blocking the main road in the sub-district and threatening transportation across the province. The provincial capital of Surabaya and the neighbouring cities of Malang, Pasuruan and Banyuwangi could be affected. Even the island of Bali could have repercussions.

Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency’s (BPLS) spokesman Achmad Kusairi said that the latest mudflow is very dangerous because of its high liquid methane content, and because it is getting bigger and bigger. BPLS was set up in 2006 after an exploration well drilled by PT Lapindo Brantas triggered the eruption of hot mud.

A local safety board warned local residents not to turn on lights because the mudflow is highly flammable.

Local sources said that the new point of eruption is just five metres from a railway line and ten metres from the Porong road that connects Surabaya to Malang and other towns in the province.

Since 2006, mud has flowed at regular intervals in Porong (Sidoarjo regency). All attempts to stop it have failed; an ever-increasing area has been covered by the hot mud.

Lapindo Brantas Inc. claims that the 6.3 earthquake that hit Yogyakarta (Central Java), 280 kilometres away, two days before it drilled for gas caused of the problem.

The government and politicians close to the company have backed the company’s claim. However, in October 2008, experts meeting in South Africa said that Lapindo Brantas Inc was responsible for the mudflow and for the devastation that it caused. For the scientists, the failure to use basic precautions in drilling for gas led to the disaster.

As a result of the eruption, entire villages have been submerged, roads and railway lines have been cut, hundreds of industrial plants forced to shut down and thousands of people have been left without a home or a job.

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