Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Reader's suggestion to prevent another Lapindo catastrophe

A generous reader dropped an email, offering help to prevent Lapindo mudflow disaster into major catastrophe by pumping the mud directly to the sea. Please note that the following article does not blame any one for the problem but sugests a method of tackling the problem.

Here's the letter from a reader named RR (no, this is not the one who recently appointed as chairman of state-owned enterprise):
Having watched with interest the continuing struggle Lapindo have endured since their gas exploration well blew out causing the devastating effects we have all seen on the television and the fact that it would seem that they have attempted to solve the problem with all the considerable resources available to them.
It is in this light of extensive effort on their part that they seem to have given up and decided to pump their problem somewhere else. The problem for everyone being that they intend to pump the mud to local rivers which will then carry the mud to the marine environment destroying the local marine ecosystem for ever.
Being an Engineer myself, my understanding of the problems they have faced is and are facing is a little better than most although my understanding of the Indonesian language is not as good as it should be.
I see the immediate problem being one of reducing the solids content of any material which must be pumped hopefully to that of water only. The only way I can see that this can be achieved, at least in the short term is to utilize as much of the materials to hand as possible. In this case it is the mud itself.
They seem to have forgotten that compacted clay is to all purposes waterproof. If the compacted mud available is loaded into (one ton polly bags), often used for carrying fertilizer or sand, the bags can then be used as either barricades or building channels to divert the flow.
A series of dams could then be constructed in such a way that the speed of flow can be reduced allowing the suspended solids to settle out of suspension, eventually leaving just dirty water which can be further cleaned with a series of gravel beds before being discharged into an existing waterway.
To ensure that the proposed arrangement would continue to work efficiently each of the settling tanks would need to be dredged almost continuously with the material being bagged and stacked, later to be used as either further barricades or the raw material for the massive reconstruction required when Lapindo and their associates are finally able to stem the flow of the hot mud.
The size of the existing and continuing problem is a vast one and would only be exasperated by moving the problem to the marine environment where the effect on flora and fauna would be devastating.
For Lapindo and their associates should be looking to a different mineral industry and their techniques for the answer to their immediate problems rather than just moving the problem somewhere else.

Well, this is at least better than simply saying mea culpa to president SBY for not quick enough to dump the mud into Porong river.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


pardon my ignorance and stupidity, but what is the meaning of mea culpa

October 10, 2006 9:11 PM  
Blogger yosef ardi said...

free translation = Forgive our sins

October 10, 2006 11:14 PM  

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