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Steel dam proposed to choke Indonesia's 'mud volcano'

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Photo: The sludge has inundated some 600 hectares (1,500 acres), including many homes and factories, leaving 15,000 people homeless. Photo courtesy AFP.

A massive concrete dam 15 storeys high would be built around Indonesia's disastrous "mud volcano" under the latest proposal to stop toxic sludge spewing from its core. Under the plan, the mud building up in the dam would eventually be so heavy that it could act as a counterweight to the sludge trying to emerge from the crater, blocking off the flow. "If this technique is successful, the area will be ready to be rebuilt into a new city. This is the future for the area, according to the civil engineers." The wall encircling the volcano would be 10 metres thick and 120 metres in diameter. The wall itself would consist of two separate fences of thick steel pipes encased in concrete up to 48 metres high. The dam would also have a machine to extract water from the mud, with the liquid moving down a massive chute for piping to a nearby river. Expected to take eight months to build, the dam would also feature a geology museum and a park, estimated to cost US$5.6 million. The plan comes after engineers spent two months trying to plug the volcano by dropping concrete balls on chains into its yawning crater. That initiative has been suspended and the mud building up behind dirt and rock embankments is being channelled to the river nearby.

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