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Cablegate: East Java: Lapindo Mud Flow Update: Dam Breached, Secondary

VZCZCXRO1546
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0056/01 2900856
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 170856Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0077
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0069
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0020
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0018
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0079

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000056

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: LAPINDO MUD FLOW UPDATE: DAM BREACHED, SECONDARY
ROAD COVERED IN MUD, ECONOMIC COSTS MOUNTING

REF: A. A) JAKARTA 2771

B. B) SURABAYA 40

SURABAYA 00000056 001.2 OF 002


Portions of this message are sensitive but unclassified. Please
protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Hot mud flowing through a breach of dam 42 at
the mud flow site has covered a secondary road linking Sidoarjo
and Malang and entered houses and schools of a nearby village.
Efforts to repair the breach have been unsuccessful and at least
10 other earthen dams are considered to be in "critical
condition." Officials responsible for managing the mud flow
told local papers that BPLS (the Sidoarajo Mudflow Disaster
Management Board) will attempt to channel the mud north, into
existing mud ponds and away from the village. BPLS's efforts
are hampered by a shortage of workers during the extended
Lebaran holiday. End Summary.

2. (U) On the evening of October 14, dam 42 near Renokengo
village gave away, allowing hot mud to flow across the secondary
road linking Sidoarjo and Malang and into houses and schools.
According to newspaper reports, two days before, workers had
noticed a 1 cm crack in the dam, but they decided that the small
crack was not a threat and took no further action. A BPLS
public relations officer described dam 42 as 11.3 meters high
and 3 meters wide, with the damage affecting 10 meters of the
dam. Sandbag repairs temporarily halted the mud's flow, but the
dam collapsed a second time on the afternoon of October 15 and
mud continues to flow uninterrupted. The road will remain
closed indefinitely, until BPLS can determine how to redirect
the mud into existing mud ponds.

10 DAMS IN CRITICAL CONDITION
-----------------------------------------
3. (SBU) Handoko Teguh, the head of mud flow mitigation working
group of BPLS, told Consulate staff that land around dam 42 had
subsided 70 cm. He added that BPLS records report 2 cm
subsidence per day since May, and predicted that subsidence
rates would increase in the coming days. Handoko admitted that
10 other dykes were in "critical condition" as a result of
subsidence, with mud levels reaching only 5-10 cms from the top
of the earthen dams. He added that there are indications that
the land subsidence is the result of cracks occurring under the
dams. Handoko explained that BPLS is having difficulty repairing
the breach at dam 42 or taking action to patch other cracks
because many of the workers who normally are on duty to prepare
sandbags are on leave until October 22 for the Lebaran holiday.
(Note: Soffian Hadi, the BPLS official charged with managing the
site, is currently on Lebaran leave.)

4. (U) On October 17, Jawa Pos reported that BPLS was attempting
to channel the mud north, toward mud ponds that are designed to
handle the overflowing mud. The area to the north is reportedly
lower than land toward the Porong River, the primary outlet for
the mud, in theory making redirecting the mud somewhat easier.
Workers have reportedly suggested that BPLS install additional
pipes to channel the mud more easily. According to a BPLS
public relations officer, it was unclear when new pipes could be
installed. In the meantime, mud will continue to flow across
the road and into the village.

ECONOMIC COSTS MOUNTING
--------------------------------------

5. (U) With the toll road permanently under mud, and now a
secondary road unusable, traffic on the main road through Porong
town has increased yet again, putting more pressure on local
shippers, businesses, and residents. Traffic is being rerouted
onto tertiary roads through the villages of Glagaharum,
Kebohuyang, and Besuki. The mud reportedly inundated homes and
a local Islamic school (madrasah) run by the Khalid Bin Walid
Foundation. Two or eight classrooms, which normally accommodate
350 students, now contain approximately 20 cms of mud.
According to the foundation's owner, the school is listed in the
areas eligible to receive compensation, but the owners have yet
to receive any money

6. (U) Kompas reported October 17 that economic losses in 2006
alone totaled Rp 13 trillion (USD 144 million). According to
Abdul Mongid, an economic observer of the Surabaya Banking
Academy, detours have forced exporters to pay an additional cost

SURABAYA 00000056 002.2 OF 002


of Rp 1 million (USD 111) per container, which translates into
additional costs of Rp 1 billion (USD 111 thousand) per day.
The Kompas article added that 22 factories have closed, with
total loses of Rp 334 billion (USD 37.1 million), and an
estimated 127.29 hectares of agricultural land has been
destroyed. These numbers do not include the financial costs
associated with declining property values, the closure of hotels
in Probolinggo, Trawas, and Pandaan, and growing unemployment.
MCCLELLAND

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