Thu, 10 Jul 2003

Firms to be tried for damaging environment

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

The Tangerang regental administration will bring to court at least 25 companies for allegedly discharging liquid waste into the regency's rivers and destroying the environment.

"The companies were found secretly dumping hazardous liquid waste into rivers," the regency environmental agency's supervision and control division head, Cecep Suhendar, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Cecep said that most of the companies had no Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) certificates and had no liquid waste treatment plants. Although some companies had such plants, they still dumped their liquid waste into nearby rivers.

"We will ask authorized officers from the Office of the State Minister for the Environment to conduct an investigation into these companies," he said.

Based on Chapter VIII article 40 of Law No. 23/1997 on the Environment, authorized officers can be assigned to investigate allegations of pollution or environmental damage. Such authorized officers are obliged to report their findings to the police.

The agency said it sent warnings to the 25 companies seven months ago but only five responded. They were aluminum profile producer PT YKK Alumico Indonesia, textile producer PT Jayasunli Subur Makmur, chicken processing companies PT Jaffa Osi and PT Ciomas Adi Satwa, and chemical firm PT Silicaindo.

However, spokesmen for PT Jaffa Osi and PT Ciomas Adi Satwa both denied the allegations that the two companies were dumping their liquid waste into rivers, and claimed that they operated waste treatment plants.

PT Ciomas Adi Satwa spokesman Uus told the Post on Wednesday that his company had never received a warning from the agency.

The other three companies could not be reached for comment.

Cecep regretted the environmental damage caused by the companies, especially as they already had waste treatment plants. He even questioned how PT YKK Alumico Indonesia could have earned the ISO 14000 environmental management certificate.

The director of the Public Policy Institute, Ibnu Jandi, welcomed the regency's plan to bring the companies to court.

"Although it's late, bringing the companies to court is very important as it will serve as shock therapy for others," Ibnu said.

He claimed that his institute had earlier conducted a study on 32 companies that discharged their waste into the Cisadane river. However, he refused to mention the companies' names as the final results of the study were still awaited with the samples taken still undergoing examination in the laboratory.

The environmental damage to Tangerang rivers, including the Cisadane, whose waters eventually flow into the Java Sea, has reportedly affected 200 hectares of fish and shrimp ponds on the coast, causing the fish farmers to stop their activities.

The polluted water from the Cisadane is used by fish farmers in the Tanjung Burung area of Teluk Naga district for their ponds.

The fish farmers have stopped their activities since their fish and shrimps died due to the pollution.

One of the fish farmers, Zainuddin, said that his five-hectare pond was among those destroyed by the polluted water.

Zainuddin, who is also the head of Sukawali subdistrict, now plans to sell his pond to the regency for the development of a harbor.

The subdistrict head, along with local residents, who earlier planned to conduct a rally at the regency office, decided to postpone it after learning about the regency's plans to develop the harbor.