Australia Committed to Resolve Pollution Issue

KUPANG

The Australian government will continue to hold talks with the Indonesia government in order to resolve the pollution problem in the East Nusa Tenggara waters, according to Australian ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarty.

“The Australian government remains committed to settle the pollution issue,” he said.

He made the statement in response to a question about what remedial steps the Australian government had taken after the Montara oil well explosion in Australian waters on August 21, 2009, caused pollution in the Timor Sea.

Greg was here to oversee the implementation of various development programmes financed by the AusAID. He said the Australian and Indonesian governments were still discussing ways to find the best possible solution to the oil pollution problem in the Timor Sea.

“Dialogues have continued between the two countries to find the best solution to minimise the impact of the pollution,” Greg noted.

Earlier, PTTEP Australasia admitted that the Montara oil well explosion caused pollution in the Timor Sea. As the operator of the oil well, it agreed to take responsibility for the impact of the pollution.

West Timor Care Foundation (YPTB) chairman Ferdi Tanoni said the oil pollution caused by the explosion had severely affected seaweed farmers in Kupang district, East Nusa Tenggara.

“People living along the coast in Kupang, who are mostly seaweed farmers, have suffered because of the oil spill from Montara. The productivity of their seaweed farms has drastically reduced in the past two years and they have even stopped farming for the fear of incurring losses,” he added.

According to a report prepared by an investigation commission from Australia, some 2,000 barrels of oil and gas and poisonous condensate leaked to the Timor Sea daily, polluting more than 90,000 square kilometres of its waters.

Meanwhile, independent geologists in Australia and Indonesia stated that the Montara well spilled out 5,000-10,000 barrels of oil a day to the Timor Sea and 95 percent of the polluted waters were in Indonesian territory.

The contamination of the Timor Sea extends to the waters around Rote Ndao district, the Sawu Sea (especially near the coast of Sabu Raijua district), the south of Timor island (including Kolbano and Wini in South Timor Tengah), and the eastern part of Flores.

Ferdi said PTTEP Australasia was ready to accept recommendations from the commission in charge of investigating the issue.

He pointed out that the company had also broken laws on off-shore drilling, greenhouse gas emissions and oil storage.

Ferdi said he had called on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to instruct the Minister of Transportation to cooperate with YPTB in resolving the issue.

“This was important because there was an impression that the Indonesian government had closed its eyes and ears to the pain that people had been going through after the incident,” he added.

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