Indonesia's mud volcano flows on
Author: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times [USA], Published on: 10 July 2010
Known as the Lusi mud volcano, its spread is...relentless — burping noxious gas, swallowing communities, killing 14 people and forcing the evacuations of 60,000... Those in the United States who are wondering just how long the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could possibly keep gushing should listen to [local resident] Sualeha's cautionary tale... Now covering 2,000 acres, it's 65 feet deep in some places, submerging factories, schools, farms and a dozen villages. Indonesian officials have insisted that the deadly flow was the result of a natural disaster... But...a team of independent U.S. and British geologists suggests that the mud volcano...was man-made, the result of a 2006 drilling accident at a nearby gas exploration site... Activists estimate that the total cost of cleanup and settlement payments will run into the billions of dollars. If they can obtain a legal ruling establishing Lapindo Brantas [joint venture of Energi Mega Persada, MedcoEnergi, Santos; held a controlling stake in the project] as responsible, they say, the company could be forced to pay more, if not all, of the damages.