Citarum, the most polluted river in the world?



13 July 2015


Clogged with domestic waste, and contaminated by harmful chemicals, is this the most polluted river in the world?



Forty miles east of Jakarta, Indonesia, the river Citarum runs over 186 miles from the Wayang Mountain to the Java Sea. The island’s largest river supports more than 30 million residents who rely on the water source for agricultural, domestic and personal use. However, unregulated factory growth since the area’s rapid industrialisation in the 1980s has choked the Citarum with both human and industrial waste. The river, now known as one of the most polluted in the world, is unrecognisable as part of the Parahyangan region. Over 200 textile factories line the river banks. The dyes and chemicals used in the industrial process - lead, arsenic and mercury amongst them - are churned into the water, changing its colour and lending the area an acrid odour. Plastic, packaging, and other detritus floats in the scummy water, rendering the river’s surface invisible beneath its carpet of junk.