60 toxic waste containers pile up at Batam port

JAKARTA • At least 60 shipping containers carrying hazardous and toxic waste have been piling up at Batu Ampar port in Batam for five months after it was discovered that some of the waste material originated from foreign countries.

All hazardous waste produced by industrial zones in Batam should be sent to a treatment plant in Cileungsi, Bogor, West Java, the only treatment facility for hazardous waste in Indonesia.

But the recent discovery of the illegal containers that were shipped together with locally produced waste had prompted the Batam Customs and Excise Office to suspend all waste shipments from Batam.

Head of Batam Environment and Forestry Agency, Mr Herman Rozie, said the authorities had found three containers of hazardous waste at the Jakarta port that were shipped from Batam and suspected to have originated from outside Indonesia.

"After the discovery, we were worried that more waste from abroad would transit illegally through Batam and then be sent to Cileungsi to be eliminated. That's why we were asked to fix our waste management system," Mr Herman said.

According to the agency, every three months, about 18,000 tons of hazardous waste, known as B3 waste in Indonesia, were produced by more than 300 companies in Batam, which is one of the country's largest industrial clusters.

Illegal waste has been shipped through Batam seaports many times previously because of busy shipping traffic on the island, which is linked to Singapore.

In 2009, about 3,800 tons of copper sludge were found in Batam that a local importer had reported as something else in the manifest.

According to the agency, every three months, about 18,000 tons of hazardous waste, known as B3 waste in Indonesia, were produced by more than 300 companies in Batam, which is one of the country's largest industrial clusters.

The waste containers were unloaded from a Panama-flagged ship, but their origins were never discovered, though it was suspected that they came from Busan, South Korea.

Indonesian law forbids the import of any kinds of hazardous and toxic waste. The government introduced electronic manifests for B3 shipments in 2017 to prevent the illegal imports, but the system has never been properly implemented.

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline '60 toxic waste containers pile up at Batam port'. Print Edition | Subscribe