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PHILIPPINES: Execs urged: Act on river pollution

by Bernadette ParcoCebu Daily News (Philippines)
October 6th, 2008

Environmentalists called on local government officials in Toledo City to actively monitor the ecosystem in the area following reports that a mining company discharged wastewater into the Sapangdaku River.

“We are calling on the local government units to take on the shared responsibility of ensuring a safe environment for constituents and protect our marine ecosystem,” said environmental lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos.

She said the process and standard of issuing and renewing business permits to companies that continue to pollute the environment should be reviewed.

Ramos referred to a complaint by residents of Barangay (village) Cambang-ug that mine tailings from the Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) have leaked into the upstream portion of the Sapandaku River.

She questioned whether there were any measures undertaken to ensure compliance from CCC on environmental procedures and standards.

“This is another wake up call for everyone to do their share in protecting the lives of people and our threatened biodiversity,” she said.

Ramos said the LGUs should procure equipment that could be used to monitor the quality of water in the area.

Residents of Barangay Cambang-ug complained that water at the Sapangdaku River has become turbid.

They suspected that wastewater was discharged into the Hinulawan River, located upstream from the Sapangdaku River.

Save Tanon Strait Citizen's Movement (STSCM) member Vince Cinches said the area has been the site of environmental disasters in previous years.

“Toledo (City) has become the toxic playground of polluting firms in Cebu. The city should get their act together now and make the corporation accountable,” he told Cebu Daily News.

“They should not wait until the community will pay with their lives. The community should prevent the repetition of (this kind of) tragedies,” he added.

The CCC, a subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. (ACMDC), started operations recently after securing fresh capital.

Mining operations were suspended in 1994 because of financial difficulties.

In 1999, Atlas Mining was penalized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7) for dumping 5.7 million cubic meters of sulfuric acid into the Sapangdaku River, causing massive fish kill in the area.

CCC vice president and resident manager Rodrigo Cal said the waste discharge was unintentional since it was caused by a leak in their pipelines.

Cal said they are working to seal the leakages and desilt the river. /With a story from Reporter Doris C. Bongcac





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