Faulty natural-gas well drowns Indonesian villages in mud and water

An Indonesian natural-gas well drilled using faulty practices has become a huge human-made disaster. In May, mud began seeping through the unprotected walls of the well at a depth of about 6,000 feet; drillers plugged the well hole, but the pressure of the mud eventually broke through the earth. Geysers of mud and water have flooded eight villages, forcing some 13,000 people to evacuate. The glurp has completely or partially submerged more than 20 factories and cut off a railroad, a four-lane highway, and, essentially, the local economy — and it continues to spew forth at a rate of about 170,000 cubic yards per day. The best of the various bad solutions may be to pump the mud into a nearby river, smothering its ecosystem. Cleanup costs could reach $1 billion, but apparently there have been no government investigations into liability. Many fear the drilling company — which is owned by a major contributor to the Indonesian president’s campaign — will declare bankruptcy, leaving the government to foot the cleanup bill. Yuck.