Bantar Gebang is Southeast Asia’s biggest landfill stretching on 120 hectare and receives 7000 – 8000 tons of waste per day.
JAKARTA, INDONESIA — A raging fire swept through Bantar Gebang, Indonesia’s largest and Southeast Asia’s most expansive landfill, causing concern and mobilizing emergency services in a race against time. Stretching across 120 hectares, Bantar Gebang handles an astounding daily influx of 7,000 to 8,000 tons of waste, playing a critical role in waste management for the region.
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On Sunday, October 29, 2023, the landfill became a hotspot of activity and concern when a fire, attributed to the sweltering heat, erupted. “The cause of the fire at TPST Bantargebang is due to the air being extremely hot, triggering ignition,” explained Gatot Sulaiman, Head of Operations at the East Jakarta Fire Department, in a statement to Metro TV.
The fire’s intensity was exacerbated by the presence of methane gas, trapped beneath layers of accumulating waste. The gas acted as a catalyst, causing the flames to grow and spread rapidly across the vicinity. Despite the challenging conditions, there were no reported casualties. However, several firefighters experienced respiratory difficulties while battling the blaze.
The Jakarta Environmental Office swiftly intervened, coordinating with the Jakarta Fire Control and Rescue Office and the Bekasi City authorities to contain and control the fire. Asep Kuswanto, Head of the Jakarta Environmental Office, confirmed the successful localization of the fire and emphasized the rapid response and combined efforts of the firefighting teams.
Firefighting resources were deployed en masse, including four water tanks from the Integrated Waste Management Unit (UPST), two UPST firefighters, 15 firefighters from Jakarta, and four from Bekasi City. “At least 60 firefighters from our side were involved in the extinguishing process,” said Satriadi Gunawan, Head of Jakarta Fire Control and Rescue Office.
To aid in the firefighting efforts, the Jakarta Provincial Government dispatched several excavators to dig through the burning debris and facilitate watering. “Thank God, in less than three hours, we managed to control the fire. Now, it is still a cooling process,” Kuswanto remarked, providing a sigh of relief for the city.
The fire reportedly ignited at 2:15 p.m. in Zone 2 of the Bantar Gebang Site, near the powerhouse and waste power plant. Zone 2 is currently inactive, leading officials to speculate that dry garbage, blown in by the wind, may have been the initial fuel for the fire.
The Jakarta Environmental Office remains vigilant, keeping firefighting teams on site to monitor the situation, determine the fire’s cause, assess the total area affected, and calculate the economic losses resulting from this environmental calamity. As the city catches its breath, the incident at Bantar Gebang serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities and challenges inherent in managing one of Southeast Asia’s largest waste disposal sites.
Lead image courtesy of ANTARA/HO-Dinas Lingkungan Hidup DKI Jakarta. Fire trucks were readied to control fire at the Bantargebang Integrated Waste Treatment Site in Bekasi, West Java, on Sunday (October 29, 2023).