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Cablegate: East Java Mudflow Update: Us Technical Advisor Begins Work

VZCZCXRO9407
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0138/01 3530947
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180947Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0340
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0166
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0326
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0346

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000138

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, INR/EAP AND EB/ESC/IEC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV EPET ELAB ENRG PGOV ASEC ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA MUDFLOW UPDATE: US TECHNICAL ADVISOR BEGINS WORK
IN SURABAYA

REF: SURABAYA 132

SURABAYA 00000138 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: US Technical Advisor for the Sidoarjo
Mudflow, Dr. Van Williams arrived in Surabaya on December 18
following a November survey of the mudflow site, and discussions
with the Sidoarjo Mud Management Agency (BPLS), the Center of
Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation and the Department of Energy
and Mineral Resources (reftel). Dr. Williams is a Scientist
Emeritus of the US Geologic Survey (USGS) and will be based at
the Consulate General Surabaya and the Sidoarjo Mud Management
Agency during his initial six month contract. Indonesian
officials expressed appreciation for the advisor and his
anticipated contribution in developing a strategy to mitigate
the effect of the mudflow. End Summary

2. (U) Between October 31and November 11, Dr. Williams, fellow
USGS Scientist Emeritus Dr. Tom Casadevall, and Dr. Michael
Sharp of the US Army Corps of Engineers visited the mudflow site
and attended a series of meetings with the Sidoarjo Mud
Management Agency (BPLS). This visit was part of the US
Mission's effort to assist Indonesian authorities with mudflow
mitigation. Key goals of the visit were to assess current
conditions on site and further define the role of the US
technical advisor working with BPLS and the Ministry of Public
Works. The US scientists also attended meetings with the
Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (reftel), and the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta. In Bandung, they
visited the Center of Volcanology and Geological Disaster
Mitigation.

------------------------

Conditions on Site

------------------------

3. (SBU) The team's visit to the mudflow was the second for Dr.
Casadevall, and his experience allowed him to evaluate BPLS's
progress. The team arrived onsite just at the beginning of the
rainy season, and they were able to observe efforts to increase
the flow of mud out to sea following the dry season and its low
river levels. The visit also coincided with news that money for
mitigation at the epicenter has been cut by up to 75%, (reftel).
A subsequent dike breach on November 18 has proven the concerns
of BPLS geologists, that stalled funds are endangering the
containment system at it most vulnerable time--the onset of the
rainy season.

4. (U) As of December 18, compensation has been paid to a
majority of victims identified in a Presidential Decree.
However financial troubles experienced by the holding company
responsible for making the payments have cast doubt on the
viability of the compensation scheme (reftel). Current heavy
rains have reduced silting in the Porong River used by BPLS to
move mud out to sea. On December 17, BPLS announced plans to
expand mud storage capacity by 30 million cubic meters. A new
dike wall eleven meters high will enclose 30 square hectares in
Besuki Village and is scheduled for completion in April 2009.
BPLS also plans to create 70 square hectares of mud
holding-ponds in Renokenongo Village. Villagers oppose the plan
and regularly demonstrate near the worksite because many
residents have yet to receive final compensation payments.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
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GOI Expressed Appreciation for US Technical Advisor

--------------------------------------------- --------------
--------


SURABAYA 00000138 002.2 OF 002


5. (SBU) During a November 10 meeting with Secretary General of
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Imron Cotan, Dr. Casadevall
described current conditions at the mudflow site and his
positive impression of BPLS operations in handling them given
the enormity of the job. Dr. Casadevall also explained the role
of the US technical advisor to the mudflow. Secretary General
Cotan expressed his appreciation to the United States for its
efforts. He also noted that while the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs does not have a formal role in the cooperation, it is
proof of a good working relationship between the two countries
and should be widely publicized.

6. (SBU) The team provided their Indonesian hosts with a USGS
report on the chemistry of the mud based on a sample provided to
Dr. Casadevall during his September 2007 visit. According to
Dr. Casadevall, there is no increased health risk due to the
chemical contents of the mud; however the size of the mud
particles could be detrimental to human health if inhaled as
dust. The current visit established several key areas for
fruitful US-Indonesian cooperation at the site to include
assistance with assessing the capacity of the river to continue
to carry mud out to sea. BPLS Head Mr. Sunarso and Minister
Purnomo Yusgiantoro expressed appreciation and support for the
work of the advisor.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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