Quantcast
Energy

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

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.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Adventure
Háifoss waterfall is situated near the volcano Hekla in the south of Iceland. FEBRUARY / Getty Images

The Essential Guide to Eco-Friendly Travel

By Meredith Rosenberg

Between gas-guzzling flights, high-pollution cruise ships and energy-consuming hotels, travel takes a huge toll on the environment. Whether for business or vacation, for many people it's not realistic to simply stop traveling. So what's the solution? There are actually numerous ways to become more eco-conscious while traveling, which can be implemented with these expert tips.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Westend61 / Getty Images

EcoWatch Gratitude Photo Contest: Submit Now!

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Freder / E+ / Getty Images

Surprising Study: Orangutans Are Only Non-Human Primates Who Can 'Talk' About the Past

We already know that orangutans are some of the smartest land animals on Earth. Now, researchers have found evidence that these amazing apes can communicate about past events—the first time this trait has been observed in a non-human primate.

A new study published in the journal Science Advances revealed that when wild Sumatran orangutan mothers spotted a predator, they suppressed their alarm calls to others until the threat was no longer there.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Suicide rates are highest for males in construction and extraction; females in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, the CDC found. Michelllaurence / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

CDC: Suicide Rate Among U.S. Workers Increasing

From 2000 to 2016, the suicide rate among American workers has increased 34 percent, up 12.9 per 100,000 working persons to 17.3, according to a worrisome new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Workers with the highest suicide rates have construction, mining and drilling jobs, the U.S. health officials reported Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
PG&E received a maximum sentence for the 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion. Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Report: 90% of Pipeline Blasts Draw No Financial Penalties

A striking report has revealed that 90 percent of the 137 interstate pipeline fires or explosions since 2010 have drawn no financial penalties for the companies responsible.

The article from E&E News reporter Mike Soraghan underscores the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) weak authority over the fossil fuel industry for these disasters.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Nevada Test and Training Range. U.S. Air Force / Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum

U.S. Navy Proposes Massive Land Grab to Test Bombs

Friday the U.S. Navy released details of a plan to seize more than 600,000 acres of public land in central Nevada to expand a bombing range. The land under threat includes rich habitat for mule deer, important desert springs and nesting sites for raptors like golden eagles.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A deer stands in the remains of a home destroyed by the Camp Fire. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

63 Dead, 631 Missing in Deadliest, Most Destructive Fire in California History

The death toll from the catastrophic Camp Fire—by far the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history—has now risen to 63, with 631 people still unaccounted for, the Huffington Post reported Friday.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office announced on Thursday that the death toll had risen from Wednesday's figure of 56 after the remains of seven more people were discovered in the wreckage.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
A smoky haze obstructs the view of the San Francisco skyline on Aug. 24 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Smoke Is a Big Health Risk as California Wildfires Rage On

By Nneka Leiba

Deadly wildfires continue to blaze in Northern and Southern California. Dozens of people are dead, hundreds more missing and entire communities have been destroyed.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!