VIDEO | PERINGATAN! Area Terbatas
PERINGATAN! Area Terbatas (WARNING! Restricted Area)
Video production Gustav Hellberg
Research and intermediation Sojung Yoon
This video was shot in the village Pesarean, just outside Tegal, a town in Central Java, Indonesia. The main line of work in the village is small scale lead and aluminium smelting, which is also known as backyard smelting or informal lead-smelting. Most workshops are located in the smelters’ homes. The smelting process is primitive and carried out with no safety measures of any kind. The smelting and casting processes are extremely toxic. Lead poisoning and other severe health conditions are widely spread among workers, their families and fellow villagers as they are unrelentingly exposed to toxic airborne gases, contaminated dust and waste products together with contaminated ground and groundwater.
Individual backyard smelters earn approximately IDR 500,000 (USD 32.00) per week. Informal lead-smelting is the main provider of recycled lead for large scale industrial motorcycle and car battery manufacturing. Some smelters run dual smelting operations, were they alter lead with aluminium smelting. The same equipment is used for both processes, causing cross product impurities, which result in to lead being part of products that should be lead free, thus causing toxic hazards for those using these products. Pots and pans and other cheap kitchen ware as well as motorcycle spares are commonly manufactured with metals produced in backyard smelting facilities, sometimes also being manufactured in the same or neighbouring “workshop”.
“In Indonesia, it is estimated that more than 8 million children have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), a level which requires action.” UNICEF