On-site probe on Philex mine tailings leak pushed-A A +A
Monday, October 22, 2012
MANILA -- A party-list lawmaker has called on the House of Representatives to conduct an on-site investigation on the environmental on socio-economic impact of Philex Mining’s Padcal mine disaster.
Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino filed House Resolution 2823 directing the House committees on natural resources, and ecology to conduct a joint probe following reports of a media blackout on the said disaster.
“Independent investigations and media coverage on the incident are being hampered by the vast influence of Manny Pangilinan-owned Philex Mining Corporation. As a result, the Philex management has monopoly on information regarding the actual conditions of the facilities in question up until now,” Palatino said.
“Philex, along with Pangilinan’s cohorts, are downplaying the scope of the disaster, which has large-scale ramifications on the environment and communities in Benguet. Philex must be held accountable, and the real situation in Itogon must be exposed,” he added.
Philex is facing a minimum P1.034-billion fine imposed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for its violation of the Mining Act for the leak in Tailings Pond No. 3 of its Padcal Copper-Gold Mine Project in Benguet.
According to MGB, the Padcal tailings pond spill resulted in the discharge of at least 20,689,179.42 metric tons of mine tailings into the Balog River, which flows to the Agno River.
On October 18, Philex said it has completed plugging the leak in its tailings pond.
Citing an independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) conducted by the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Palatino noted that the leaked tailings have affected the livelihoods of more than 34 families living downstream of the Agno River.
The FFM also reported the existence of “mutant tilapia fishes” with big heads and small bodies possibly due to long-term exposure to acid mine drainage, as well as alleged toxic residue in dried and poisoned plants, trees and branches where the discharges from the dam flowed.
Philex blamed the spill incident on the torrential rains during the months of August and September.
“Contrary to Philex’s claim, the irresponsibility of their company, and not force majeure, is the primary cause of the mining disaster,” Palatino said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)