PROFAUNA Protests Against the Construction of a Nickel Smelter in a Land Adjacent to the Baluran National Park

Protection of Forest and Fauna (PROFAUNA) Indonesia protests against the construction of a nickel smelter in a land adjacent to the Baluran National Park in Situbondo, East Java. The protests is expressed in a theatrical demonstration held in front of the Governor of East Java's office on Thursday, 23 October 2014.

In the demostration, PROFAUNA urges the Governor to dismiss the establishment of the smelter because the land clearing process began last August takes place in a land right next to the national park's territory. This issue is deemed crucial as the smelter poses numerous negative impacts to the ecosystem of Baluran, and also to the general public.

PROFAUNA's investigation resulted in a strong indication that the smelting company has not  acquire its environmental impact assessment documents. "Not only that this smelter has not hold the required environmental impact assessment documents, the road opened in a land which is still within the national park area has no permission from the Ministry of Forestry. Therefore, it is legitimate to surcease the construction," stated Swasti Prawidya Mukti, the campaign officer of PROFAUNA Indonesia.

PROFAUNA strongly dejects the fact that the the main road to the smelter is opened within the area of the national park. "This is violating the law because road opening for commercial purpose is not included in the utilization allowed for national parks," added Swasti.

The smelter owned by PT Situbondo Metallindo is a great threat for the Baluran ecosystem. In the 25,000-hectares protected area, there are 217 bird species and 26 mammals including the banteng or tembadau (Bos javanicus javanicus), watel buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), dhole or asiatic wild dog (Cuon alpinus javanicus), muntjac or barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak muntjak), rusa deer (Cervus timorensis russa), leopard cat (Panthera pardus melas), java mouse-deer (Tragulus javanicus pelandoc), and fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).

PROFAUNA's deep concern is based on several reasons. Smelter takes huge amount of electricity and coal as the fuel during the smelting process. In the end of the process, the system will produce solid waste and SO2 (Sulfur Dioxide) gas which could induce acid rain.

This acid rain, when it goes down into the soil, will increase the acidity of the soil and ground water. As a result, most kinds of vegetation will be damaged and eventually die. Vegetation loss will inevitably leads to the  slow death of the wildlife of Baluran.

Even though the impact could not be felt or seen directly, animals and humans are also in threatened by respiratory irritation, pneumonia, emphysema, hyperphlasia, and fibrosis. Experiments proved that nickel compounds could also cross placental barrier in mammals, lead to fatal embryonic development or malformation. other laboratory experiment result shows that injections of nickel compounds to particular organs in animals provoke development cancer due to cell mutations.

© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats