Militants call for deeper Philex probe-A A +A
Friday, September 14, 2012
PEOPLES’ groups in Baguio City are calling for a probe into the Philex mines mess and its permanent closure.
Windel Bolinget, chairperson of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), challenged Philex Mining Corporation to open their gates to a probe. “I am challenging Philex mining to allow an environmental investigation mission.”
Bolinget said the lifespan of the tailings dams in the Philex areas have exceeded their limits. “This is not a simple leak, this is a collapse.”
The CPA is calling for the total closure of the mining firm.
Bolinget said Tailings Pond 1 did not meet its lifespan of 10 years, while tailings pond 2 collapsed in 1992 and now tailings pond 3 has also given in.
“The DENR should be checking these tailings ponds. Bakit hinayaang lumagpas?” he said.
Bolinget said the span of tailings pond 3 has expired in 2010. “Cost cutting yan, hindi sila nagpagawa ng bago.”
The CPA alleged there was a 6.5-million ton of tailings discharged during the first tailings leak on August 1 alone. The volume of tailings discharged has more than doubled with the succeeding mine leaks.
The toxic mine leaks mean massive contamination and siltation of the Balog and Agno rivers, and the communities and farm lands situated along the affected rivers. It means severe degradation of ecosystems and peoples’ livelihood.
The CPA is calling for immediate and long-term solutions must be implemented to avoid further environmental damages.
In 1992, when tailings pond 2 collapsed, there were 80 million tons of toxic waste discharged into the Agno River.
“This is worse there are more toxic chemicals now,” Bolinget said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is still consolidating the volume of the wastewater that leaked out of the tailings pond but a crater created by the leak at the tailings pond had grown bigger, estimated to be 30 hectares.
The entire tailings pond is 92 hectares.
The volume of wastewater released from the tailings pond could have increased because of the failure of the company to plug the leak since August 1.
Vergel Anicieto, Katribu Partylist fourth nominee, said the mining firm cannot plug the leak at this point as the lifespan of the tailings pond has expired.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 15, 2012.