Monday, August 8, 2016

Sec. Gina Lopez won't ignore what Marinduque guys took pictures of

The idea of diving into blue freshwater could be a thrilling and fun experience, indeed. Could be worth traversing difficult mountain slopes near the water source as some local college boys did just to get the feel of it. So they came, they saw, they dived, and took pictures.

But they were just babies, some not even born yet when the Boac river tailings spill disaster happened, when the existence and extent of the dangers of earthen dams up there containing toxic waste came to be known by many Marinduquenos for the first time. Couldn't blame them.

Blue Waterfall in Puting Buhangin rushing to shore.
Symptom of acid mine drainage and high metal content.
Further up the mountains lie the ominous earthen siltation dams.
No fixing of these dams and structures have ever taken place since 1996.
Anyone still protecting the mining company's interest?
Photo courtesy of Richard V. Nardo (2016)

Twenty years after the spill disaster, serious concerns about acid mine drainage has apparently waned as authorities claim that the river has undergone a gradual recovery and that the remaining tailings from the collapsed tunnel in Hinapulan "has no significant broad scale environmental toxicological impacts".

They also state, however that "we feel that the water quality will improve further once the remnant mine tailings are finally removed and disposed appropriately" (MGB 2013).  

Yet they know fully well that the mine tailings have never been removed and disposed appropriately by the mining company contrary to what was promised the Philippine government.

But in line with DU30's call let's not engage in finger-pointing for the sins of the past if we could avoid it. Just for now.



Diving into the toxic blue. Photo: R V. Nardo (2016)

Google map shows the location of Puting Buhangin-Bol River, Bol River Dam (top), the large Tapian Pit (south of Bol River Dam), Makulapnit Dam (partly shown) and at bottom left is the Hinapulan River that joins the Boac River.

Because now the problem goes physically beyond the tunnel where the mine waste escaped in 1996. 

Based on my previous post on Boac MPDC Engr. Luna Manrique's findings that acid mine drainage is now flowing directly from the earthen dam into the Boac River, into the sea, and based on the local intrepid boys' accidental discovery of a blue river in Puting Buhangin, how could MGB be right? How could the Boac not contain high levels of toxic heavy metals and other chemicals and the future be damned?

But thanks to President Duterte, who's right without question in recently drawing attention to our island-province's foremost environmental problem as he defended his Environment Secretary, Gina Lopez. 

In the light of these realities plus 20 years of never-ending struggle, how could the feisty lady now ignore Marinduque's unfortunate role, described by a Canadian lady crusader like her as "the poster child of irresponsible mining, past and present"?

Would she ignore these pictures, past and present? She wouldn't, we Marinduquenos do suppose and that Lopez would do something quick about it.

Beyond Hinapulan. Lush vegetation covers the waterfall and the acidic cloudy blue waters in Puting Buhangin-Bol River. Photo: RV. Nardo

The shallow part that doesn't hide its color. Photo: R.V. Nardo (2016)

Traversing the mountain slopes...

 ...to reach the waterfall and the hidden river was all worth it. The boys ventured into the unknown and the ever-exploited people of Marinduque became aware just now of another of those morally reprehensible secrets.

Toxic blue freely flowing through the overflow into the Boac. Photo: R.V. Nardo


Bliss in unknowing. But thank you guys!

Upriver in Hinapulan-Makulapnit. Photo courtesy of William Mirambil (2014)

Nearer the source of Boac river (Canat-Tumagabok side) before it reaches Hinapulan. The color of gold. Photo: William Mirambil (2014)

Map shows Sabong-Tumagabok area, away from the earth dams.

A 'look-alike' waterfall in Sabong - Hinulugan Falls. This one's not blue, not toxic
  
Another waterfall in Tumagabok. When this Boac river and Hinapulan tributary meet the river is further degraded now with free-flowing AMD from Bol River Dam.  Photo: Morion Mountaineers

Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream

If you don’t fight no one else will
Give it a try, keep it alive
To see the view you got to climb the hill
Give it a try, get to know why

It’s been a long way coming
But you got to know why and when

Only the dead fish follow the stream 
No, nothing is ever what it seems 
You can do whatever if you know when and why
Only the dead fish follow the stream

Don’t go and get too comfortable
You can’t keep it alive if you’re not awake
I keep a smile through success and mistakes
Come hell or high water I’m ready, I’m ready

It’s been a long way coming

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