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Cablegate: East Java Mudflow Update: Flammable Gas Buildup Causes

VZCZCXRO6768
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0047 1050904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140904Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0193
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0100
RUEHCAA/GEOLOGICAL SURVEY DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0180
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0007
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 0004
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0043
RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0098
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0198

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000047

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 EINV EPET ELAB ENRG PGOV ASEC ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA MUDFLOW UPDATE: FLAMMABLE GAS BUILDUP CAUSES
ILLNESS, POTENTIAL FOR EXPLOSION THREATENS HOMES

REF: SURABAYA 40 (and previous)

This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (U) Summary. Five residents of a village near the Sidoarjo
mudflow fell unconscious after exposure to high concentrations
of gas in their neighborhood. Sidoarjo Mud Management Agency
(BPLS) spokesperson Ahmad Zulkarnain confirmed to the local
press that a buildup of methane and hydrogen sulfide gas inside
West Siring's sewers was the culprit. BPLS has installed pipes
to vent the gas and prevent further buildup. A Sidoarjo city
official has asked the central government to fund evacuation of
these villages. This episode is the latest indicator that side
effects of the mudflow disaster -- continued subsidence, geysers
and flammable gases -- could increasingly plague local
communities previously undamaged by the mudflow. End Summary

2. (U) On April 10, five residents of West Siring village fell
unconscious and dozens more suffered from headaches, coughs, and
nausea, reportedly from gas leaks. A BPLS team launched an
investigation to identify the source of the gas. The 400 meter
sewer running the length of the Siring-Porong Road has
reportedly been venting flammable gas since the second week of
April, according to local media. (Note: Sewers in many
Indonesian cities are concrete-lined channels covered with
moveable concrete slabs to allow access for cleaning). BPLS
detected both methane and hydrogen sulfide gas from two gas
sources near the sewer. According to the BPLS Gas Monitoring
Team (PT Fergaco), the concentration of gas had reached 100% due
to its confinement in the enclosed sewer. BPLS spokesman
Zulkarnain advised residents not to throw lighted cigarettes or
matches into the sewer.

3. (U) Residents initially prevented the BPLS team from venting
the gas from the sewer along the Siring-Porong Street for fear
the gas would be more dangerous once released. After a full day
of resistance by villagers, BPLS was finally permitted to open
the sewers on April 11. That same day, Saiful Illah, the Deputy
Regent of Sidoarjo, and Ario Wijanarko, a Parliamentarian
representing the National Awakening Party, visited the site and
asked the central government to fund evacuation of West Siring's
residents since the Sidoarjo government did not have an adequate
budget for this purpose.

4. (SBU) BPLS Operations Engineer Mr. Handoko Teguh told
Congen Surabaya that gas emerging from beneath a single factory
(PT. Alam Jaya) was the source of high gas concentrations in the
sewer. BPLS had previously installed a pipe at the factory to
deal with a geyser that had erupted there. As a result, gas
mixed with the piped waste-water is likely the source of the gas
build-up as the pipe empties into the West Siring sewer.
Handoko added that these concentrations of gas are highly
flammable. BPLS has removed portions of the sewer's concrete
slab coverings and installed vertical pipes to vent the gas
above ground level. Gas concentrations in the 400 meters of
affected sewer have been reduced, but remain dangerous to local
residents. Other evidence of the continually changing
conditions under West Siring village emerged in early April when
several residents complained that the floors of their homes were
so warm they had to continually cool them with water, according
to local media.

MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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