Quick facts on the Lafayette mine tailing spills
- The mine tailing spills occurred on October 11 and 31, 2005
- The spills released extremely high levels of cyanide into the nearby creeks and caused damage to the marine life there. (DENR report)
- Technical experts on dam design noted that the Lafayette dams seem under-designed in the light of Philippine rainfall conditions. (DENR report)
- Lafayette's detoxification system for cyanide was inadequate and inefficient, an extremely serious violation of its ECC conditionality (Bastes Commission Report)
The people of Rapu-Rapu lost their income from fishing as well as their food supply from the sea that was once bountiful. On November 6, 2007 they started the first Kampong Bayan in front of the Municipal Hall to condone Lafayette Mining. Every Wednesday (when the Sangguniang Bayan held regular sessions) thereafter they assembled in front of the Municipal Hall. They asked for action from the municipal government proved useless.
Meanwhile, their second Kampong Bayan was harassed by police. Two of the participants and supporters in the Kampong Bayan on November 14, Mr. Antonio Casitas of Sagip-Isla and Mr. Stephen Prestado of Ateneo de Naga University, were detained.
Answering to the cries of Rapu-Rapu citizens, the Sanggunian Bayan passed a resolution allotting calamity funds for an investigation of the said fishkill. However, the Mayor vetoed the resolution. In this matter, the Mayor can use the reason for his veto what the investigation is supposed to verify. He claimed that the "resolution was done in haste by declaring without any established facts that the alleged fishkill was due to the "unscrupulous and irresponsible disposal of toxic waste from Lafayette Phils. Inc."
The Mayor further said that the "actual quantity of the dead fish has not been fully confirmed." The investigation is precisely intended to know the actual quantity of the dead fish. And finally, the Mayor alludes to the "presumption of innocence until proven otherwise."
The Mayor has a point in this issue if the investigation is criminal in nature. In a criminal investigation, when reasonable doubt remains the accused is pronounced innocent. However, investigation to be done in Lafayette Mining is scientific hence the principle to abide by is continuation of the study for as long as doubt remains. The investigation can only be stopped once a definite proof or disproof is established.
Hence the fishkill in Rapu-Rapu requires a scientific investigation. Even Albay Governor Joey Salceda issued a statement regarding the investigation on the fishkill in Rapu-Rapu. On November 7, 2007, he said, "let science prevail."
On December 5 to 12, 2007, the third Kampong Bayan was staged by Sagip-Isla and UMALPAS KA in front of the Provincial Capitol after marching from the Port of Legazpi. The activity was supported by SARA, BAYAN, SAC and offices of the Governor and Vice-Governor.
Lafayette, DENR, and BFAR have cited the following as caused of the fishkill on October 26 to 29, 2007.
- compressor fishing
- strong current of turbulent waves
- farm chemicals
- the company was not operating at that time
- the tailings dam still had 11 meters before the water level could reach the top
- the fishkill was observed only in Poblacion, 7 kilometers from the mine site
- DENR laboratory analysis showed only 0.001 (unit of measure not clear)
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