MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Repeat Of Boac River Disaster Of 1996 Alarmed Marinduque Officials

Published by MAC on 2006-04-04
Source: Marinduque Council for Environmental Con


PRESS RELEASE - April 4, 2006

BOAC, MARINDUQUE -- In yet another historic move, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Marinduque convened on April 4, 2006 a special session jointly with all the six Municipal Councils of the province to unite and consolidate all efforts in coming up with urgent alternative solutions to the "imminent and present danger" posed by the Upper and Lower Makulapnit Dams in the abandoned mine site of Marcopper Mining Corporation.

The first historic move undertaken by the said body was the declaration of a 50-year large-scale mining moratorium on October 28, 2006.

According to the privilege speech delivered by SP Member and Environment Committee Chairperson Melecio Go which opened the Joint Special Session, the engineers of the mining company revealed in a meeting with his committee and other officials that there is indeed a seepage in a tunnel of the Upper Makulapnit Dam similar to the seepage of August 1995 which resulted to the infamous Boac River Environmental Disaster of March 24,1996, a week before the province celebrated its annual Moriones Lenten Rites.

Governor Carmencita O. Reyes, in her address, also informed the joint session that even the DENR officials who visited the province on April 3, 2006 confirmed the alarming condition of the tailings dam on top of Marinduque mountains which, in the unlikely event of collapse, will bring an immense catastrophe to the low-lying towns of Boac and Mogpog.

The two Makulapnit Dams have a combined volume of 34 million cubic meters of water and mine tailings. These materials, in case of any accident, will find their way into the Makulapnit and Boac Rivers which only have an estimated holding capacity of 11 million cubic meters. The 1996 Disaster involved only about 4 million cubic meters of contaminated water and mine wastes.

Mayor Percival Morales of Sta. Cruz informed the joint session that he and the local officials of his town are "supporting the present move in order to emphasize that they are not after any economic gains from any mining operation but after the safety and security of their kababayans from other towns" especially because the unstable structures are within their jurisdiction. He called on everyone to support the move to press for the immediate conduct of any remediation works on the mining structures.

Meanwhile, in supporting the call of the day, Mogpog Mayor Jonathan Garcia reiterated the stance of his local government unit for the total decommissioning of all mining structures, especially the tailing, dams to ensure that they will not be used for any more mining activities and to have a stop to any other mining-related disasters in the province of Marinduque.

Msgr. Senen Malapad, Executive Chairman of Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC), emphasized during the joint session that while it may already be too late for local public officials to act for the best interest of the people, it is still necessary to unite and call the attention of the national government to stop the 'resale' of the province to foreign investors through its inclusion of San Antonio Copper Project in the 24 mining priority areas in the country, and instead take the responsibility of giving solutions to the mining-related problems in Marinduque. He also cautioned the officials not to allow submarine tailings disposal as a method of finally disposing the mine tailings in the event of the decommissioning of the dams.

The joint session declared all abandoned structures in the mine site as public hazards in order to enable the government to take up the necessary remediation works after almost 10 years of neglect on the issue, and after Placer Dome dumped its responsibilities over the remediation works.

The Joint Session also adopted a resolution requesting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to allocate funds for the immediate remediation works in Marinduque, assign technical teams from concerned national government agencies which will come up with comprehensive remediation plan in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Khlon Crippen and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports.

The officials also called on Marinduque Representative Edmundo O. Reyes, Jr. to help them trace the paper trail of the funds deposited by Placer Dome, Inc. through an escrow holder bank in New York. They also unanimously agreed that it is important to know the whereabouts and status of these funds in order to finance the remediation works in Marinduque.

The officials in the joint session also approved a resolution supporting the Marinduque Declaration which calls on the national government to 'delist' the San Antonio Copper Project from the Arroyo Administration's 23 mining priority list.

In order to carry out the proposals, the Joint Session appointed MACEC Executive Secretary Myke Magalang to assist the Committee on Environment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in drafting a concept paper that would establish a local task force that will oversee the engineering, legal, health, public safety, and public information works related to mining issues and concerns in Marinduque.

Myke R. Magalang
Executive Secretary

Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns
2nd Floor, Sacred Heart Diocesan Pastoral Center,
Cathedral Compound, Boac, Marinduque
Tel. Nos. (042) 332-2713

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