Indonesia: Hundreds Volunteer to Clean Oil Spill in East Kalimantan

Balikpapan, Indonesia

Two police officers remove oil-soaked debris from Semayang beach, Balikpapan city, East Kalimantan, April 2, 2018. (Gunawan/BenarNews)


An Indonesia Search and Rescue officer interviews witnesses after efforts to burn off the oil spill created fire and thick smoke near Balikpapan city, March 31, 2018. (Indonesia Search and Rescue/AFP)


Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs officers examine the carcass of an irrawaddy dolphin, April 2, 2018. (Gunawan/BenarNews)


Thick plumes of smoke rise from the oil spill fire, March 31, 2018. (Instagram@Iieebarbie/Reuters)


An Indonesian police officer scoops oil polluting Banua Patra beach, Borneo, April 2, 2018. (Antara Foto/Sheravim/Reuters)

Hundreds of police, military members, students and other volunteers have been scrambling to clean up beaches in and around Balikpapan, a city in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province, following an oil spill last weekend.

The spill and subsequent fire has claimed at least five lives and forced city officials to declare a state of emergency. The Indonesian government says it is investigating the cause of the spill, but alleges the oil came from a Chinese ship that caught fire in Balikpapan Bay on Saturday.

“The five victims were fishing. They were allegedly trapped in flames and drowned while trying to save themselves,” a volunteer who asked to remain anonymous told BenarNews.

Pertamina, the Indonesian state-owned oil and natural gas corporation, has assigned four ships to clean the spill, which covers an estimated 1.5 miles (2.4 km). A company spokesman said Pertamina did not process this type of oil at its East Kalimantan refinery, adding that tests showed it was ship or marine fuel.

Meanwhile, Balikpapan Mayor Rahmad Mas’ud praised the efforts of volunteers and Pertamina.

“Our cooperation will succeed in cleaning up this oil waste. In four days we will remove the emergency status, I am sure,” Rahmad told reporters.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.