MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Lafayette water tests tagged misleading

Published by MAC on 2005-11-27

Lafayette water tests tagged misleading

27th November 2005

Bobby Q. Labalan, PDI Southern Luzon Bureau, Inquirer News Service, http://news.inq7.net/regions/index.php?index=1&story_id=57907

SORSOGON CITY-The results of the water analysis conducted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on water samples taken around the Lafayette Philippines Inc. mining area were misleading, an expert environmentalist and biologist said.

The source, who requested not to be identified, said the BFAR tests focused only on mercury, which was negligible in the area.

BFAR conducted water samplings in 11 locations in Rapu-Rapu and Prieto Diaz towns last Nov. 3 and 4.

Based on the test results, freshwater from the villages of Pagcolbon 1 and 2 and Malobago in Rapu-Rapu and seawater from Bacon shore were within the safety limits while freshwater samples from Binosawan 1 and 2 and seawater from Lupi, Prieto Diaz and San Ramon were dangerously high in metal and other toxic contents.

The same results showed that the mercury content of drinking water from Malobago and the goat fish collected from the same barangay were all within the safety limits.

Lafayette's mining operation does not use mercury, and it was normal that the test results would prove that there was no serious mercury contamination in the area, said the expert.

She said Lafayette might use the BFAR test results to refute claims of water contamination in the area.

The test should have concentrated on the presence of the chemicals cadmium, lead and arsenic, which are being used in the mining operation, the expert added.

Sorsogon City Councilor Dave Duran, chair of the Sangguniang Panlunsod committee on environment, said he would ask BFAR to conduct another examination and to focus on the three chemicals mentioned by the expert.

Duran said BFAR should have patience in doing this as it could mean disaster if not given proper attention.

Meanwhile, the League of Mayors of the province is set to meet Environment Secretary Michael Defensor to voice its strong opposition to the continued operation of Lafayette.

League president Mayor Johnny Guysayko said they have received reports of fishermen who had contracted skin diseases and the same were being attributed to the toxic spill from the mining operation.

Prieto Diaz Mayor Benito Doma confirmed such information, saying a number of fishermen had complained to him of having skin diseases.

Lafayette said it has taken steps to make the mining operations in Rapu Rapu, Albay safer.

But an independent fact finding mission received testimony from some mine workers that the spill was no accident.

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