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Greenpeace Wins Wastewater Discharge Lawsuit Against Indonesian Government

Environmentalists have called it the most polluted waterway in the world, but it soon could lose that moniker.

The Citarum in West Java, Indonesia, which provides water to millions of residents for agricultural, domestic and personal use, is also lined with hundreds of textile factories. These facilities, which supply several big-name brands such as Nike and H&M, are considered to be the worst offenders and have been blamed for much of the river’s pollution.

Greenpeace Indonesia, along with community groups Pawapeling, Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) and Legal Aid Bandung, filed a lawsuit in December 2015 against the Indonesian government’s decision to continue issuing wastewater discharge permits to three textile companies—PT Kahatex, PT Insan Sandang Internusa and PT Five Star Textile.

Last month, an Indonesian court decided to suspend, cancel and revoke government decrees that legalize pollution, and wastewater discharge from those three companies is now considered illegal.

“Evidence revealed that permits were given without consideration of the supporting and carrying capacity of the river and no study was conducted to establish if the discharges would impact aquaculture, animals and plants, quality of soil and groundwater. There was no monitoring and evaluation before issuing permits. To prevent further destruction, and taking into account the precautionary principle, the judge decided to grant the entire lawsuit,” Greenpeace spokesperson Ahmad Ashov Birry wrote in a blog post on the group’s website. “This unprecedented decision gives us hope that a clean and toxic-free river and future in Indonesia is possible.”