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Cablegate: East Java Mud Flow Update: Subsidence Causing Dam Breaches

VZCZCXRO7714
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0061 2970844
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240844Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0086
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0027
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0078
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0008
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0088
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0010
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0025

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000061

SIPDIS

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 MUD FLOW UPDATE: SUBSIDENCE CAUSING DAM BREACHES

REF: SURBAYA 56

1. Two earthen dams separating lagoons of mud have been
breached at the Lapindo Mud Flow site according to local press
reports. Near midnight on Sunday 21 October, Dam 25 collapsed
and underwent two quick repairs. Mud from the breach flowed
from one holding pond into another at the former site of
Jatirejo village. While this breach did not flow outside the
current containment, recent multiple failures of dams there
suggest a continuing problem with dam stability and no single
definitive cause, according to sources at the site.

2. Sidoarjo Mud Disaster Management Board spokesman Achmad
Zulkarnain told the Jawa Pos that serious subsidence beneath
Dams 24 and 25 started on 21 October causing mud to flow rapidly
out of a crack 40cm wide and five meters long. The Sidoarjo Mud
Management Agency (BPLS) started emergency repairs in the early
morning hours of Monday 22 October, but the repairs failed. The
dam collapsed again at 5:30 AM and the mud poured uncontrollably
through the crack into the adjacent Jatirejo pond. The outer
wall of this pond is immediately adjacent to the railway and the
main road linking the far east of Java to the rest of the island.

3. BPLS spokesman Achmad Zulkarnain said subsidence is also
causing cracking beneath Dams 42, 43 and 47. He speculated that
the ruptures might be exacerbated by earthquakes related to the
anticipated eruption of the Mount Kelud volcano 90 kms to the
south. However Consulate Surabaya's discussion with BPLS
personnel suggests that lack of personnel during the recent
Lebaran holiday likely led to a decline in dam maintenance and
ability to repair breaches at the site (reftel). Zulkarnain
told the media that BPLS cannot guarantee the safety of the dams
because their strength depends on geological conditions. In
order to anticipate and counteract the leaks, BPLS can only
build surrounding secondary "counter-wide" dams around the
breaches.

4. Mr. Handoko Teguh, the head of mud flow mitigation working
group of BPLS, told Consulate General Surabaya today that a new
dam system entirely enclosing the village of Renokenogo is being
constructed adjacent to the breach at Dam 42. This breach
caused the inundation and evacuation of the village (reftel).
The dam will form a new outer retaining wall for the mud flow to
the north of the site. Although some residents of the village
refuse to move from their homes, construction of the dam
continues apace and has already reached a height of 4 meters and
a length of 100 meters.

MCCLELLAND

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