From: Associated Press
Published October 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Oil Spill Hits Tourist Islands in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An oil spill has swamped a chain of tourist islands off the coast of the Indonesian capital, polluting a marine park and hitting businesses in the area, officials and media reports said recently.

Oil began leaking a week ago in the region known as the Thousand Islands, but government officials said they weren't sure what the cause of the spill was.

Thousand Islands Regent Abdul Kadir was quoted in the Jakarta Post as saying the spill may have been caused by leaking oil pipes operated nearby by China National Offshore Oil Corp. or by a mishap loading oil onto tankers. Similar accusations have been made against the company in connection with earlier spills.

Villagers were reportedly using buckets and their hands to remove lumps of tar from the beaches and oil from the ocean surface in the area, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Jakarta in the Java Sea.

"The current oil spill is the first incident in the past eight months, and the worst with a larger ecosystem and greater area effected," Kosasih Wirahadikusumah, director of the Jakarta Environmental Management Agency, told the Jakarta Post.

Wirahadikusumah was quoted as saying rangers at the region's Kepulauan Seribu National Marine Park have reported extensive damage.

The islands have been hit by at least five oil spills in the past year, driving occupancy rates at some resorts to just about 30 percent, according to Jakarta Tourism Agency.

"The oil spill has hurt our business, and guests complain they cannot enjoy the facilities because of it," said Asep Hidayat, the marketing manager of Kotok Island Resort. "If these conditions continue, the tourism business here will die as well as the environment surrounding the islands."

The oil slick has also hurt fishers and seaweed farmers in the area, officials said.

Source: Associated Press

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