Friday, April 01, 2005

NGOs: Burst Exxon Mobil gas pipe adds to Aceh suffering

The public haven't forgotten the hundreds of thousands of Acehenese who lost their lives in the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the difficulties faced by the survivors. However a new burden arrived on 23 March 2005 for the 820 residents of Rayeuk village in North Aceh who are suffering the effects of a gas leak from Exxon Mobil Oil Indonesia. The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Forum for Environment (WALHI) and Oilwatch-Southeast Asia have decried the leak, which comes at the worst possible time for the villagers who are still in mourning.

The break in Exxon Mobil's gas pipe became an all-day spectacle for around 820 people forced to evactuate to a football field in Rayeuk village, about 30km from Lhokseumawe. At least 28 people were reported to be experiencing breathing difficulties and/or vomiting blood after inhaling the leaked gas.

"JATAM expresses the deepest concern regarding Exxon Mobil's gas leak, and demands the company and government take immediate steps to secure the health and safety of the victims", said Andrie S Wijaya, JATAM's manager of energy advocacy.

This gas leak continues the record of 18 gas industry accidents and 22 cases of oil pollution in Indonesian waters in 4 years. Frustratingly, not one of these cases has been dealt with through legal channels, oil spills etc have always been treated as mere accidents.



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