Courtnay Robbins

Indonesia's Toxic Communities
Location: Los Angeles
Nationality: USA/Italia
Biography: Courtnay Robbins is documentary photographer based in Los Angeles. She received her BFA in Photography and Media from the California Institute of the Arts. Courtnay’s work has been featured in TEMA, Tricycle, OURS Magazine, Viewfind, The... MORE
Public Story
Indonesia's Toxic Communities
Copyright Courtnay Robbins 2022
Updated Aug 2016
Location Indonesia
Topics Documentary, Environmental, Health/Healing, Photography, Poverty

In the small village of Cinangka, there are backyard smelters burning car batteries to melt and then resell the lead found inside.  People living nearby complain of the affects of the high levels of lead in the air"children are born with defects and learning disabilities and adults suffer from headaches and nausea from the smoke.  Though this practice is illegal, many officials turn a blind eye.

Gold was discovered on the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa in 2008.  Local families learned the trade of small-scale gold mining, digging their own precarious tunnels and using mercury and cyanide to extract the gold from the ore.  Deaths from tunnels collapsing are all too common and the mercury causes brain damage and tremors for not just the miners, but everyone living in the vicinity of the pollutants.

Lead and mercury permeate the soil, air, rivers and oceans, affecting not just the local communities but also all of us around the globe.

There is no simple solution.  The people involved with these toxic practices are often the poorest of the poor and this is their livelihood. For them, to not mine or smelter may very well mean to not feed their family.  However, if these dangerous methods continue, the whole world suffers. 


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