lepanto mines affecting our hometown

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Post  kkvsflor on Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:43 am


Lepanto Mining did not cause a fish kill, MGB says


BAGUIO CITY a" The office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in the Cordillera has cleared Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. (LCMC) of any responsibility for the alleged "fish kill" in the Abra River late last January.

Neoman de la Cruz, MGB Cordillera regional director, said that Luba, Abra, where the reported fish kill happened, is located at least 50 kilometers from the mine site. This means, he said, the upstream towns of Quirino and Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, which are both traversed by the Abra River, should have been affected.

But the people of the two towns never reported any fish kill in at the time when the fish kill in Luba, Abra occurred.

He said that the MGB office conducts monthly water-quality monitoring of the upper Abra River affected by the affluents of Lepanto Mining and that latest results of the water-quality tests showed that the cyanide content of the water is within the tolerable limit set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Earlier, the Save the Abra River Movement (STARM) said it documented the mining firmas discharge of alleged toxic chemicals into the environment.

The high cyanide content, it said, resulted in the fish kill in the Abra River.

Last Jan. 26 and 27, Luba (Abra) residents reported the alleged fish kill, saying that the riverbed was filled with a very fine semen-like mud, which came with the rains of typhoon "Agaton" a few days before the fish kill.

They said that dead shrimps and fish were seen floating in the Abra River and that the water was allegedly blackish and had an unusual odor.

At the same time, residents of Paalaban, Mankayan, Benguet who live just behind the carbon-in-pulp mill outlet of Lepanto observed a strong odor emanating from the mine waste flowing into their community on the evening last Jan. 24 and that the strong odor returned every evening at around 7-9 p.m.

Downstream, residents of Quirino and Cervantes, Ilocos Sur also noted the dark color and strong odor coming from the water flowing in the Abra River.

Water samples collected from Luba yielded free cyanide levels above the DENR limit of 0.05 milligrams per liter (mg/l). The river water in Luba was shown to have levels of .064 and 0.076 mg/l free cyanide.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said that fish die when the river water contains 0.05a"0.072 mg/l free cyanide.

Further, water collected from the mill of the mining company last Feb.8 showed extremely high levels of free cyanide above 26.4 mg/l.

But De la Cruz said that based on the monitoring by MGB, as well as by the multi-partite monitoring, the level of cyanide and other chemicals in the water is within the accepted standards.
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