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Pregnant Dugong Found Dead In Toxic Waters Of Rapu-rapu Island For Immediate Release

Published by MAC on 2006-01-26
Source: Defend Patrimony ()

Pregnant Dugong found dead in toxic waters of Rapu-rapu Island For Immediate Release - Defend Patrimony

26th January 2006

A pregnant Dugong (Dugong dugon) or baboy daga, a rare marine mammal, was found dead at Sitio Gogon, Brarangay Poblacion, Rapu-rapu, Albay, one of the affected areas of the toxic mine tailings spill of Australian owned Lafayette Mining Inc . Local fisherfolk found the Dugong in the morning of January 25, 2006. They suspected that the Dugong's death is because of its exposure to toxic chemicals present in the seawaters of Rapu-rapu Island.

Dugong is a large marine mammal belonging to a group of animals known as Sirenians. It has a grey brown bulbous animal with a flattened fluked tail, like that of a whale, no dorsal fins, with paddle like flippers and distinctive head shape.It is classified a vulnerable specie by the Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In the Philippines Dugong is considered as endangered animal.

Fr. Felino Bugauisan local Assistant Parish Priest and spokeperson of Sagip Isla said that "This is the first time we found a dead Dugong in our Island. We did not experience any fish kill and Dugong dying in our sea before the mining operation and cyanide spill of LMI. This validates the toxic effects of the cyanide and other heavy metals in the mine tailings spilled from the mining operation of LMI last October 11 and November 1 2005.The threat of contamination still lingers in the island, contrary to the claims of LMI and DENR that the incident has been sufficiently addressed and its effects have been contained." Sagip Isla is a local movement in the island opposing and calling for the closure of Polymetallic Mining Project of LMI.

"The cyanide spill and the voluminous toxic mine tailings that have been dumped in Rapu-Rapu island has caused the contamination of the seagrass and poisoning of sealife including the Dugong. Dugong is a sea mammal that naturally feeds on seagrasses found on shallow waters of coastal areas. On the average, it eats 25 kilos of seagrass a day. The presence of toxic heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic in their food is fatal to Dugong," explains by Clemente Bautista of Defend Patrimony. Defend Patrimony is a national alliance opposing large-scale mining projects and the mining liberalization program of the Arroyo administration

Aside from Dugong, whale sharks, commonly known as Butanding are also found in Rapu-Rapu Island. The people and local government of Sorsogon also opposes the LMI large-scale mining project because it is affecting the multimillion whale watching tourism in the province. Rapu-Rapu Island and Donsol, Sorsogon is the natural sanctuary of Butanding and Dugong.

"Until now, the people and fisherfolks of Rapu-rapu Island are reeling from the effects of mine tailings spill of LMI. The volume of our fish catch drastically decreased and people from other places is still afraid to buy our catch for fear of toxic poisoning," added by Fr. Bugauisan. .

Mr. Bautista states that "The LMI cyanide spill, the fish kill and the death of Dugong in the Island only shows why the DENR can not be trusted with the protection of people's wefare and the environment.The situation also affirms that there is no such thing as environmental-friendly mining operation under the mining revitalization program of the Arroyo administration."

Sagip Isla and Defend Patrimony reiterate their demand for the closure of the Lafayette mining operation in the island. On Monday they will join the presentation of the laboratory results of the local samples drawn by an Independent Investigative Mission, led by the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), on the immediate impacts of the Rapu-rapu incident.

For Reference:
Fr. Felino Bugawisan 09214853771
Enteng Bautista 09283448797

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