PT Holcim (Indonesia) denies pollution claims

PT Holcim (Indonesia) denies pollution claims
Published: 15 January 2008

PT Holcim (Indonesia) has denied allegations by a local NGO, IHWaR Foundation, that the firm’s waste removal activities pollute the environment.  
"We invite journalists and IHWaR to visit our factory in Cibinong, West Java, so they can observe the waste management activities themselves," Jeffry Sani, Holcim corporate communications manager told The Jakarta Post on Monday.  
Several hours earlier, the Indonesian Hazardous Materials and Waste Research (IHWaR) Foundation told reporters at its office that  Holcim and a separate cement producer, PT  Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa, had violated environmental law by running a dangerous waste removal business without requisite technology.  
Ronny B. Sirait, IHWaR head of research and legal affairs, said the cement kilns at both  Holcim and Indocement were only capable of recycling waste and attempting to destroy waste would produce harmful emissions.  
"Those companies need incinerators with a capacity to burn at 1,200 degrees Celsius to remove waste. Besides incinerators, they also need cyclonic scrubbers to control the harmful emissions," said Ronny.  
"Cement kilns are not designed to destroy waste. This has also been stated in a regulation on hazardous waste management issued by the government in 1999."  
Indocement had not yet responded to inquiries on the matter.  
Ronny said both Indocement and  Holcim operated their waste removal business on the basis of "no-objection" letters issued by the State Ministry of the Environment in September and October last year.  
"Those letters stated that the ministry wouldn’t object if  Holcim and Indocement engaged in waste removal activities," he said.  
However, Ronny said the "no-objection" letters contradicted permits earlier issued by the ministry which allow cement companies to recycle industrial waste but not to destroy it.  
He said the letters couldn’t properly be used as the authorization for a waste removal business. "The two companies are only permitted to use dangerous waste to fuel kilns and as cement additive materials." 
"We wonder how the ministry could issue two contradictory documents." 
M. Ilham Malik, assistant deputy for hazardous waste management administration at the ministry, said the no-objection letters were made to cut bureaucracy and the ministry only permitted the companies to destroy the types of waste their kilns could accommodate.  
"Several types of waste can be destroyed in kilns and we run regular evaluations to make sure the companies’ waste removal activities do not harm the environment.  
He added that the letters were only valid for a short period -- between three and six months -- and would be renewable only if the companies were proven capable of destroying the waste.