12 Jul 2013 11:19

KUPANG, Indonesia, July 6 (Bernama) -- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have been urged to discuss the pollution issue in the Timor Sea, Indonesia's Antara reported.

"We hope that Susilo and his Australian counterpart will discuss the Timor Sea pollution in their meeting in Bogor," Ferdi Tanoni, an observer of the Timor Sea pollution said here on Friday.

He said that besides discussing investment and trade issues in their Indonesia-Australia Annual Leaders Meeting at the Bogor Palace, the two leaders should also discuss the Timor Sea pollution which took place following the explosion of the Montara oil well in the West Atlas Oil Block, Timor Sea on Aug 21, 2009.

"This is an environmental problem which is universal in nature and has an impact on humanity, particularly the people of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) who live in the coastal areas. They become the victims of the pollution. This is a disaster which should not be underestimated," Ferdi, who is a former immigration agent at the Australian Embassy, said.

The Montara oil well which exploded in Timor Sea belonged to PTTEP Australasia from Thailand. So far, the company seemed to be `abdicating` its responsibility for the disaster that took place in the Timor Sea.

"We hope that the governments of the two countries and the local government of NTT together with the West East Care Foundation (YPTB) will discuss efforts to settle the Montara disaster in the Timor Sea," said Ferdi.

Executive Director of the Indonesia Maritime Institute Y Paonganan, who is also a sea ecology expert said that the Indonesian government was rather slow in solving the problem which tarnished the dignity of the Indonesian people.

"The Timor Sea pollution is not a minor problem viewed from the ecology aspect. On this reason, we call on President Susilo to pay attention to this matter," said Paonganan.

Earlier, PTTEP Australasia has offered a compensation of US$5 million for local fishermen and seaweed farmers in the surrounding waters.

But this offered was firmly rejected by the YPTB chairman because the compensation was not comparable to the hardship of local fishermen and seaweed farmers where the pollution covered an area of 85,000 sq km.

Based on the facts submitted by the YPTB in December 2010, Ferdi called on Susilo to take speed and firm actions to resolve the Montara sea pollution.

"I highly expect that the two governments will discuss the pollution problem in Timor Sea during the Indonesia-Australia Annual Leaders Meeting at the Bogor Palace," he said.