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The world’s most polluted river | DW Documentary

The world’s most polluted river |  DW Documentary
our journey begins in the mountains of the island of Java at the foot of the weiyang volcano there is a lake the cradle of the shitta room

River

tt Bakhtiar a geographer at a university in the region knows this place well see Tucci Santi is the name of this sacred lake at the beginning of the cheetah room if we walk a little further I'll show you the real source where the bubbles come out of the ground the water here is very pure clean enough to wash your face with it's more than just
the world s most polluted river dw documentary
home for me I feel at peace here the water is still so clean legend says it's the water of youth the sheet our room is so important for Indonesia very very important thanks to the dams the

river

generates enough electricity for the islands of Java and Bali it's a source of drinking water and used for fish breeding and for agriculture three million people live along the banks of the

river

and another 11 million live around the source of the shiteru an indonesian wonder the

river

meanders
through the island of Java for 300 kilometers and flows into the sea east of Jakarta the country's capital for the first kilometers the shittim is just a stream it quickly becomes a

river

essential for farmers then the

river

crosses the islands largest cities but as the kilometers go by we see something completely different mounds of rubbish the white plastic replaces the blue water in Indonesia despite strong growth in consumption the waste treatment system is still undeveloped so the

river

serves as an open rubbish bin and the fishermen are now fishing bottles there are no more fish here because the water is too

polluted

Rudy is 23 years old he walks along the schita room for nine hours every day he works for a recycling cooperative I'm the

most

with plastic water bottles I collect more than 50 kilos of them a day between five and six euros for six years Rudy has been plunging his hands into the horrors of the

river

the worst is the smell from the dead animals but I'm used
to it under this mangrove forest trapped in the roots thousands of pieces of debris have accumulated a little more each day and a large amount is not collected Indonesian

river

s dumped 200 thousand tonnes of plastic into the sea each year plastic visible pollution shocking but not the

most

dangerous the Shotaro manats inhabitants suffer mainly from chemical pollution to understand what's happening we go to one of the many villages along the

river

and it's textile factories Neuer has
always lived here every morning this 42 year old woman goes to the well which is fed by the room I used the water from the

river

to do the dishes wash clothes to shower and to wash vegetables the color changes sometimes it's black sometimes it's red this morning the water is clean so I'm taking the opportunity to wash the vegetables in any case we have no choice there are no other sources of water Noah lives right by the well at the heart of this district where 3,000 people live a
quarter of the inhabitants are under 15 years old they are the

most

fragile the ones who seem to suffer the

most

from pollution like Knorr - children Wow my oldest feels nauseous last time the doctor said he had a liver problem he also has a headache and he can't ease nor has a doctor's appointment the clinic is half an hour away by cart they do this twice a month Yuda her eldest son falls ill as soon as he finishes his medication how long has he been sick about four three days and what
symptoms does he have his chest hurts when he coughs yesterday he felt sick and he vomited as soon as he tried to eat my neighbours have the same problems because we shall with the

river

water and the

river

is extremely dirty yes we also see many cases of diarrhea especially in children it may be related to the contaminated water they drink but as for the skin diseases we see it's hard to prove scientifically it's impossible to draw definitive conclusions there is no epidemiological
study and no proof of the impact of pollution of the room on local populations one man is fighting to change that denne this one Donny he runs the only environmental Association in the region for 17 years he has been surveying the schita room in search of evidence of pollution by the textile industry Lu in this region there are 500 textile manufacturers located along the cheetah room and they pour their sewage directly into the

river

on average each of these plants disposes of 1,300 liters of
wastewater per day some why it has different colors depending on the dyes they use what market they are supplying and the type of clothing they have to make here's the discharge from several factories you can see today it's dark red and it's hot very hot this is why they called the cheat our own the

most

polluted

river

in the

world

somewhere it makes me want to cry it's so sad to see the Cheetara min this state women don't get to see my

river

so dirty who are these companies
emptying their wastewater into the room we retrieve the list of textile factories along the

river

here they are on this map now here we can see all the textile factories on the banks of the tatar room we've compiled data from the Ministry of Commerce to provide a clearer picture seventy-five percent of their production is destined for export mainly to the American and European markets one of the largest exporters in the country is the gist X group getting access is difficult but the
company agrees to let us in 4,500 people work here gist X produces mainly polyester fabric a synthetic material that requires a lot of chemicals the group works mainly with large clothing stores in these buildings 1000 machines operate 24 hours a day seven days a week the factory produces nearly three million meters of fabric a month for the whole

world

each of these machines processes the wires with water filled with chemicals the wastewater then flows to the settling tanks so this is our
wastewater treatment so our wastewater treatment the size is 50 meter width and hundred meter length and then the depth is around 6 meter conversion of kilometers do you analyze the device water before a problem not every day only five daily parameters while international standards provide at least 31 I don't think so yeah still need to be filter if you want to drink but I mean it's okay you can pass but for me visual control is what attack I think I put in a hat if I don't get itchy
the world s most polluted river dw documentary
then good we are not really convinced by the itchy hand test long is going down maybe here also mosquito then below more mosquito sorry yeah we want to know what the wastewater of this subcontractor of the global textile industry really contains to find out we have to follow this discreet white pipeline on the Left which dumps the plants waste in the shiteru the overflow channel is hidden under the foliage at the edge of the site this area is off-limits and to access it you have to cross the

river

from the other side there's another one right there at discharge outlet from the gist X Factory we are approaching the water pipe from 30 meters the water is already covered with a film of white foam this is what gist X did not want to show us we are on the company's property without authorization so we must be quick we take two leaders to analyze Oh as we go down the room the smoke from another factory catches our attention lensing the

world

leader in artificial fiber the
company supplies the majority of major clothing brands again huge settling tanks one of the villagers shows us where to find their overflow channel and then on the banks of the room it's here what a stench the smell is suffocating it is here 300 meters from the factory that lensing pours its waste out of sight and close to fields and houses a yellow and black flow of waste that ends in the

river

this time we have more time so we directly test the water with our apparatus an analysis kit for
different pollutants that was recommended by a scientist can you hear me professor loud and clear professor legume is a chemist who specializes in water analysis what should the first analysis be chromium because chromates are often used in the textile industry that's why I suggested it to you as an indicator and chlorides can be an indicator of pollution arsenic nitrates ammonium 10 milligrams of phosphate per liter body difference that's the results only give us a rough assessment of
the pollution for a more accurate reading I'm going to take some water samples for a laboratory to analyze later rice fields are only a few meters away this is the main crop along the shiteru this is where Kang Yusuf's plot is look how rotten everything is so what's wrong with the rice plants the contaminated water causes the roots of my rice to rot and then the insects attacked them look at the insects there are lots especially aphids Kang Yusuf's plots are literally
surrounded by textile factories the water that irrigates his rice field is purple and frothy what pollutants are hiding in this rice have you ever tested the rice before no never we take our samples of rice and water to the Institute of ecology of Padang University Professors soon RD runs the only environmental studies laboratory in the region we can measure the temperament of

most

ly the dangerous species like arsenic and then mercury also cadmium led the effect of a few meters for example
cancer and even then when productivity our women productivity something like thank you both after I continue thank you see you thank you okay close to the factories while we wait for the test results we get some of the women and children of the village together we offer to analyze their hair to better understand which pollutants they are exposed to a delicate protocol to advise us we put Brice Appenzeller on the line can you hear me professor yes he is the person to speak to in Europe when it
comes to researching pollutants with hair samples he is head of the human bio monitoring unit at the Luxembourg Health Institute what's the point of hair analysis compared to blood or urine tests the blood or urine test gives us information about the few hours before the sampling with hair it's different the speed of growth is around one centimeter per model and it's easy to get samples more than one centimeter long so we have information covering a period of several months and that
makes the sample really representative of the individuals chronic exposure what's found in the hair has passed through the body and through the blood system children have a metabolism that is still maturing and this is precisely why they are especially vulnerable to any kind of endocrine disruptors in total we take the hair of ten children from the same neighborhood aged from 12 months to 14 years we send them straight to Professor Appenzeller in Luxembourg as we are leaving the village we
receive a phone call from the environmental activists we met on our raft trip hi Martin I think you should come and see the pan Asia discharge outlet they're discarding their waste in the middle of the night one of our contacts is on site the factory is located right on the edge of the sheet Arun okay okay the pan Asia group is one of the largest Indonesian subcontractors in the textile industry we filed a complaint to pan Asia because when the water rises it reaches our fields and it makes
our skin start to itch the water is dirty the smell is unbearable you know the villager I talked to told me to put on a mask if I go closer to the water because it's true that even from here we can smell it and it's pretty strong thank you it's really hot and the smell is unbearable check out the color of the water look I'm out of here okay thank you thank you so much thank you this time we are not able to give this sample to dr. sonorities laboratory in Indonesia he will not
have time to analyze it we have to send them to another laboratory in France that specializes in environmental studies in the meantime we find the indonesian biologist dr. Soong Rd he has just finished analyzing the first two samples of water and rice that we had given to him he asked us to take him to the rice field where we took the samples because he wants to be clear he can hardly believe what he has found in the rice one thing with this strain is the total chromium content in the party
the world s most polluted river dw documentary
planes we found that it's very high 28.0 ate four milligram per kilogram will be found at a lab concentration on the body plants is much higher than the recommended standard in the limits we found a 29.0 3 milligram per kilogram while the standard only 0.25 a human body especially good children will lay this very dangerous this lab will disturb the network system but central or peripheral system so if the children exposed to the lab then they will have like intellectual disabilities
something like that this is the worse effect of the lab I believe that the main source of pollution is from the textile industries if the government put very strict standard then investor will not come to energy but you know if there is no standard for many parameters then we sacrifice the people this rice that grows along the room is sold throughout Indonesia it is contaminated with lead one hundred and sixteen times above the Indonesian consumption standard it reaches such a high level because
heavy metals accumulate in the rice fields this lead pollution seems to agree with dr. sonorities other results testing wastewater from textile factories in gist X overflow channel water the level of lead is 1.5 times the international tolerated limits for industrial wastewater for the wastewater of the lensing company it's worse the lead level is 3.5 times higher but that's not all another parameter attracts our attention sulphate lensing releases 7087 milligrams per liter al

most

ten
times the global recommendations high levels of sulphate in water can lead to diarrhea especially in children this is one of the main causes of infant mortality in the country in Indonesia 147 thousand children die each year before the age of five finally we received the results from the French laboratory for the pan Asia Factory where we took the water samples at night we read these at Denny respond Donny's house the activists of the Association for the defense of the environment together
we contact the French chemist who was interpreting the pan Asia water analysis professor Bernard Lagoo the scientist who specializes in water pollution what do you say to the results the water that you had analyzed as practically sewer water urban wastewater given the bacteriology and taking into account the chemical oxygen demand plus we have a bit of tributyl phosphate not a product I see very often it's a solvent and then we also have a few phthalates that exceed the limits set out by the
European Union quality standards there are nonylphenol to it concentrations of 70 micrograms per liter that's high right that's above the environmental standards enforce in Europe and nonylphenol czar products that are endocrine disrupters nonylphenol or phthalates aren't due to regular human activity no no these are chemicals used in the textile industry have you seen similar levels of nonylphenol before in your career Oh never can the water be used in farming no no it shouldn't
be used for irrigation how about washing for washing food no no it's really too septic the water has been fouled so what should we do we don't have a choice we're dependent on this water Danny lives here and asks what they can do to use the water anyway because they don't have a choice at least boil it and reoxygenate it re aerated as it cools down and you need to decant it because it will have particles suspended in it so at least boil it and my main advice is to not drink it
I'm sad for myself and the residents along the cheetara because the victims of this pollution don't know anything about the degree of danger they are exposed to Thanks this will help us prove that the textile industry is contaminating the water and what impact that has on humans and the ecosystem until now we didn't know exactly what pollutants there were in the water what major clothing brands do the polluting factories we have spotted supply - we sift through dozens of clothes then
their labels to know which ones work in Indonesia here look the best made in Indonesia Computers water by H&M made in Indonesia made in Indonesia we then get the lists of indonesian subcontractors from these big brands the factories from which we have taken the waste water appear on the lists can subpoenas yahoo yeah the company is registered as one of hmms subcontractors pan Asia also works with other brands like Uniqlo it was in the pan Asia group's water that we found high levels of
nonylphenol a powerful hormone disrupter the gist explant and its waste with high lead levels is also subcontracted by the Uniqlo brand and lensing the plant with records sulphate levels in its waste water supplies raw materials to companies like Gap ASOS Marks & Spencer and once again Uniqlo and H&M the swedish giant H&M has an office in jakarta the Indonesian capital they are here on the 21st floor we have already tried to contact them by email but without success incredibly the
director of H&M Indonesia agrees to see us from then we film with our mobile phone so we made some what analysis what we found was well yeah it was a little interesting especially that one of you does that surprise you is it something you've said before is um no I cannot answer the questions today in this meeting but I I will go back and look at the report and tortious calm so that you get the reply that we yes yes three weeks after this interview hmm writes to us we are sincerely
concerned by the subject of your report H&M has the size scale and ambition to lead the change towards a truly sustainable fashion industry the production of raw materials like those from the South Pacific plants in lensing concerns the entire textile industry this is an important challenge that we will solve with the entire industry we'll continue to choose the best possible alternatives regarding the pan Asia Jaya body Factory we have carried out independent audits the last in July
2017 despite numerous requests this H&M supplier never authorized us to test its waste water again the Japanese brand Uniqlo also implicated responds the analyses we had access to did not take into account the presence of lead and sulfate in the industrial wastewater thank you for pointing out the unacceptable levels of these parameters near the gist explant in the case of the pan Asia Jaya a body plant after your investigation we consulted reports that show levels of nonylphenol x' and
phthalates that are below your results however we commissioned independent experts to investigate in greater depth on site we could have given many more examples 252 clothing brands work with indonesian subcontractors who dumped waste water into the sheeted room the big fashion groups here are all gathered in the same Association ap the textile industry lobby in Indonesia a key sector with a 10 billion euro turnover eg Disney is their representative would you drink this water this is this comes
from pan Asia mmm out for this is one of your member will you drink this water would you use it for your irrigation if I lived in I used it even if you saw there all the podiums we don't have chosen you sad for your country well yeah but for the environment when you see that we don't have solution when you talk to the brand name and then cut the order and the factory is closed simple so the brains have the real power yes at the brim and it's common in clothes yes and then finish
father what does that make you feel you see that children living around factories sometimes like this if you have so many pollution I think maybe next 50 year we are now what is the x-men you know Phillip Maxwell a half-smile the spokesman of the textile lobby recognizes the impact of the industry on the health of the residents of the Sheeta room and the curtain falls before reaching his sinister predictions could the Indonesian government not take steps to avoid this chemical contamination at
the Ministry of Environment the person in charge of Pollution Control agrees to meet us he reads our analyses a little surprised I think to take sample and if the sample confirmed this number we will ask the local government or a revised permit effluent permit and we also may be revised the deadline for textile industry we will revise the parameters not only for maybe we include the sulfur we include the layer of a metal or some dignity good news for residents of the sheeter oh good news which
is quickly overshadowed by the latest results of our investigation the hair analysis professor Appenzeller sends us the report from the Luxembourg Health Institute on average the hair samples from the Indonesian children contain more than 54 different pollutants 54 pollutants in these children's hair is that a number that you often see or is it unusually high 54 out of 140 we can scan for is pretty high if we had looked for more molecules we would definitely have found more pollutants in the
samples we were analyzing so in a sense it's just the tip of the iceberg we give these results to the mothers of the children we took samples from like Noir and Yuda if the children fall ill again these tests might help specialists to better diagnose them in total we take hair from 45 children living near textile factories for the first time professor Appenzeller will include Indonesia in his new scientific study at the end of this trip there is a glimmer of hope what if it were possible to
produce clothing along the Sheeta room while respecting the environment and the health of the residents this is the challenge taken on by this large textile factory it is the only one in the country to have received an international eco label with very high standards from the outside the wastewater goes up and down the settling tanks and also for filtering and rhe oxygenation the solid materials are even separated then recycled in total there are 12 treatment stages actually this water already
in the standard of drinking water before and after this is small example to show the

world

that even we still can do the business and then we still produce the minimum harmful substance for the environment the drill making drill and equally above is quite view and

most

of the customer maybe they don't know yet but I'm sure in the future they'll they start looking into this and hopefully you can get more order from outside the fabrics of this factory are ten percent more expensive
than those of its Indonesian competitors is that the price for the shitty room to once again become the

most

sacred

river

in the country instead of the

most

polluted

in the

world

to meet global demand textile production in Indonesia is expected to increase by 75% by 2030 major clothing brands can no longer look away too many victims are paying the heavy price you