Monday, March 21, 2011

Of super moons, super dams and USGS

All was quiet on the Marinduque waterfronts as the supermoon sailed, but national television had a hayday with all of them asking the oft-repeated question, “are we ready?”.

That is, are we ready for the next disastrous earthquake, or tsunami, or volcanic eruption, or big flood? Everyone agrees that we could not blame it on the moon. The unanimous response offered in various tones was, “no, we are not ready, right”.

The Filipino is said to be fatalistic and so it appears that the words “it’s all up to God” are often uttered, promoted and find home.

Marinduque Concern

Still, for the island of Marinduque that has experienced such disasters, including man-made ones, it should somehow open those with perpetually closed eyes to the fact that this could be the site of the next natural or man-made disaster, indeed.

Isn’t it so that the same USGS (United States Geological Survey) that was very much in the middle of the Japan quake studies and tsunami warnings , is the same USGS that reported the instabilities on, not one, not two, but four major Marcopper dams in Marinduque that are virtually abandoned now posing significant threat to lives, properties and the Marinduque ecosystems? The product of their multi- million peso government-funded studies on Marinduque’s mining-related environmental and human health issues?

It will be exactly 15 years this coming Thursday, March 24 when the Boac River became famous worldwide as the victim of the worst environmental disaster in Philippine history. Millions of tons of mine waste destroyed that river then, a disaster that occurred only three years after one of those dams burst in 1993, with millions of toxic waste rendering another river, the Mogpog River biologically dead until today.

Have people grown so weary after decades of vocal opposition from the affected communities in Calancan Bay, in Sta. Cruz, in Mogpog and in Boac? Heavy metal contamination in their blood have hounded those children in the Sta. Cruz bay area and no one knows how the children in the other areas affected are doing now.

Somebody waved court papers and imaginary dollar bills and the good people of this island were hushed, probably thinking there must be something in it for them. But for all you know, the most publicized of these cases has been thrown unceremoniously into the garbage bin. The servile sycophants are suddenly hushed.

Photos courtesy of Allan Lissner.

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