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Indonesia

Posted on September 18th, 2013

The Citarum River

The RiverBlue team traveled to Indonesia to visit the now polluted paradise, Citarum River and to speak with Greenpeace president Kumi Naidoo. The Citarum River used to be known as the Parahyangan, or the the place where the Gods resided, however now it unfortunately has the reputation of being one of the dirtiest rivers in the world.  For us, it sadly looked like a giant sewer tainted by toxic waste and filled with garbage.

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Today, millions of people depend on the river and surrounding area for agricultural and domestic use. We watch as Abah, a local fisherman, hooks a pop can with a stick and flips it into his boat. The Citarum is so bad that former fishermen have taken up a new trade, foraging for drifting refuse, which they can sell. The factories along the river are polluting the water and this is water that people get drinking water from and making them sick.

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We visited the PT Gistex factory, one of the largest factories on the shore of the Citarum River where we are shocked and saddened by the chemical waste disgarded into the river. When we arrived at our destination, our accompanying Greenpeace crew disembarked on the shore opposite the drainpipes that drop down from the PT Gistex facility. They suited up with protective clothing to jump into the purple fluid that pours from pipes down into the river, collecting samples for testing.

The wastewater discharged from this facility provides a clear example of the type of hazardous chemicals being discharged every day into the Citarum River  affecting the local ecosystem and the livelihoods of millions of people.

In Indonesia there is supposed to be clarity and total admission from the textile factories to admit what they are dumping into the water, but that practice is not always followed. Add to that, that there are companies who share pipes and some are secretly laid and dump into the river at night, it makes it difficult to find the perpetrators.