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Cablegate: Action Needed to Identify East Java Mudflow Mitigation

VZCZCXRO0935
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0659/01 0930757
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020757Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8533
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2247
RUEHCAA/GEOLOGICAL SURVEY DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2478
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1738
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 2159
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000659

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT PLEASE PASS TO A/S HILL TRAVELING PARTY
DOE FOR CUTLER/PI-32
COMMERCE FOR USDOC 4430


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EPET SENV EAID ID
SUBJECT: Action Needed to Identify East Java Mudflow Mitigation
Funds

Ref: SURABAYA 27 (Planned technical assistance progress)
07 SURABAYA 66 (BPLS equipment monitoring request)
07 SURABAYA 41 (BPLS technical assistance request)

JAKARTA 00000659 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: This is an action request. Assistant Secretary
Hill visited the Sidoarjo mudflow site in May 2007 and indicated to
GOI officials that we were looking for ways to help. In September
2007, a US technical expert identified potential ways to help
Indonesia mitigate the humanitarian, economic, and environmental
damage caused by the mudflow (Ref C). However, despite general
agreement that U.S. technical assistance could help mitigate the
damage without entangling us in Indonesian domestic controversies,
we have yet to identify funding for these initiatives. Officials at
the Sidoarjo Mud Management Agency (BPLS) continue to request US
help to mitigate the disaster and relocate critical infrastructure.
Post requests Washington's assistance to identify funding sources
for proposed USG assistance. End Summary.

No Interest in Blame Game
-------------------------

2. (SBU) Since the mudflow began in May 2006, more than a dozen
villages have been inundated and critical infrastructure has been
destroyed or is currently threatened. Assistant Secretary Hill
visited the mudflow site in May 2007 and indicated to GOI officials
that we were looking for ways to help. Each passing day brings new
humanitarian hardships, flaming geysers, and land subsidence. The
political debate rages on, with the majority of East Javans blaming
Lapindo Brantas, the energy company associated with Coordinating
Minister for Social Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, while the political
elite blame natural causes. The US has no interest in commenting on
the causes of the disaster. Rather, our interest lies in helping
Indonesian officials mitigate the mudflow's impact on critical
infrastructure, livelihoods, homes, and businesses. We believe that
US technical assistance will add much-needed impartial scientific
authority to those who wish to mitigate present and future effects.

3. (SBU) In light of these factors, we believe US assistance should
include technical analysis and advice not otherwise available, and
focus solely on disaster mitigation of the mudflow and the worsening
humanitarian crises caused by it. We will not be party to
determinations of liability.

What makes Sense?
-----------------

4. (SBU) A US Geological Survey geologist visited BPLS on
September 21, 2007 to discuss challenges BPLS faces in managing the
mudflow. Since then we understand the State Department, USAID, USGS
and US Army Corps of Engineers have met in the US to discuss ways to
help. Congen Surabaya and BPLS continue to meet regularly in
Indonesia. We agreed on a three-stage plan, each informing the
next: 1) A site survey team visit, 2) mapping of the site using
Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, and 3)Placement of a
US Expert on-site for a year, subject to quarterly review.

Site Survey Team
----------------

5. (SBU) A team of US geologists would confer on-site with BPLS
about current conditions and the significance of proposed LIDAR
survey data for mitigation efforts and infrastructure relocation.
The site survey team would also assess the need and potential role
for a resident U.S. Geologist on site (described below). Survey
team members would create terms of reference and advise the Mission
on drafting an MOU for the long-term position. The survey team
would stay for a period to be determined, but probably on the order
of two to three weeks. We request that each agency fund the
participation of its members of the inter-agency team. Three key
goals of management include: 1) Disposal of the mud; 2) Maintenance
of containment structures, and 3) Identification of suitable
corridors to relocate critical infrastructure. If stages two and
three are needed based on the teams assessment, then an appropriate
MOU for each stage will be drafted by Congen Surabaya in concert

JAKARTA 00000659 002.2 OF 002


with the Site Survey Team lead and BPLS.

Mapping the Mud with LIDAR
--------------------------

6. (SBU) We understand that representatives from the USGS, the US
Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Naval Oceanographic Office met
in Alabama on February 14, 2008 to discuss technical needs for a
LIDAR survey of the mudflow. LIDAR would provide a high-precision
topography map to serve as a baseline for planning a long term mud
management strategy. We understand that the Alabama team prepared a
technical proposal for the LIDAR survey, including costs estimates
and post-survey data analysis. The team discussed using LIDAR to:

1. Identify the size and shape of mud accumulation area;
2. Identify the size and shape of subsidence-affected area;
3. Determine the rates of mud accumulation and ground subsidence;
4. Map sediment movement in river and coastal waters;
5. Map the directional flow of mud on land to identify suitable
corridors to relocate critical infrastructure; and
6. Plan for post-data collection analysis.

Looking Ahead--A Resident US Expert on-site
-------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Based on an assessment of the survey team, a U.S.
mitigation expert/advisor could be made available to BPLS for a one
year period. The mitigation expert would have offices in Consulate
Surabaya and be hosted by BPLS. We would reassess prospects for
continued cooperation quarterly in concert with an activity/progress
report to be written by the expert.

Action Request
--------------

8. (SBU) The costs of the survey team visit would include air
travel and per diem for two or three experts for 10 to 14 days. The
total estimated cost of three overflights and related data analysis
for the LIDAR survey is $2 million. We understood from State/EAP
that it would allocate $300,000 from an unspecified source for U.S.
technical assistance as outlined above. Post would appreciate
updated information regarding the status of these funds.
HUME

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