Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Deadly Oil Spill Leaves Indonesian Bay 'Like a Gas Station'

Energy

Indonesia has declared a state of emergency after a large oil spill ignited and killed at least four people in the port city of Balikpapan off the island of Borneo over the weekend.

The blaze is now under control but the oil continues to spread. According to BBC News, the slick currently covers an area of seven square miles and threatens to further pollute the waters.


Fishermen told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the spill has killed at least one protected dugong and the contamination could destroy their livelihoods.

"It's a fire hazard and the smell is still there," local fisherman Maspele told the publication Monday.

Hundreds of locals have reported health issues including difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting from the smell of fuel and black smoke.

The city has distributed masks to protect residents, the Jakarta Post reported.

"I may be exaggerating [with regard to smokers], but the bay is now like a gas station," Balikpapan secretary Sayid MN Fadli said at City Hall on Monday.

Balikpapan, which has a population of 700,000 people, is a major mining and energy hub and home of state-owned energy company Pertamina.

Pertamina said the disaster has nothing to do with its nearby refinery or undersea pipelines that run across the bay, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. The firm's tests on oil samples found marine fuel oil used for ships, not crude oil, it said.

Police are investigating the source of the spill and are questioning the crew of a bulk coal carrier operated by Chinese nationals and have taken samples from the ship, the MV Ever Judger.

"We're questioning some witnesses including the boat crew of MV Ever Judger, also the local residents, workers from Pertamina—and we're waiting for all the results," Inspector General Widyanto said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Women walk from Santa Monica beach after a social media workout on the sand on May 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.

Read More Show Less
Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans and others who suffer from PTSD. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Arash Javanbakht

For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.

Read More Show Less
Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs. Mathias Appel / Flickr

Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs, warns a year-long inquiry into Australia's "most loved animal." The report published by the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) paints a "stark and depressing snapshot" of koalas in Australia's southeastern state.

Read More Show Less
NASA is advancing tools like this supercomputer model that created this simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to better understand what will happen to Earth's climate if the land and ocean can no longer absorb nearly half of all climate-warming CO2 emissions. NASA/GSFC

By Jeff Berardelli

For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.

Read More Show Less
A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less

Trending

African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less