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Supreme Court issues writ on two firms over toxic waste

by Nathaniel R. MelicanBusiness World

THE SUPREME Court has issued a Writ of Kalikasan (nature) sought by residents of Marinduque province to force Placer Dome, Inc. and Barric Gold Corp. to clean up the toxic waste that spilled into the Boac River in 1996.

the Boac River and its environs are still bearing the brunt of the spillage of about two million cubic meters of toxic industrial waste in 1996, Marinduque residents claim. -- BW file photo
Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas P. Marquez said the high tribunal acted upon the petition of three residents of Marinduque who wanted Marcopper Mining Corp., owned and operated by Placer Dome and Barric Gold from 1964 to until its closure in 1997, to restore and rehabilitate the Boac River and its environs.

The petitioners, who filed a complaint at the high court last month, claimed that the residents of the province continue to suffer from the environmental damage brought by the mine tailings Marcopper had allegedly dumped into the river when it was operating in the province.

The petitioners, who have filed five lawsuits against Marcopper, also claimed that the Boac River and its environs are still bearing the brunt of the spillage of about two million cubic meters of toxic industrial waste after a drainage plug in a containment area storing the waste burst in 1996.

The court has yet to issue a resolution and outline other actions on the case.

Placer Dome, Barric Gold and Marcopper, all banned by the government from the mining sector after the 1996 incident, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Leo L. Jasareno, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, welcomed the high court’s intervention in the issue.

“There are still mine tailings at the Boac River [as a result of the 1996 incident], which was confirmed in a report by the [United States Geological Survey],” Mr. Jasareno said in a phone interview.

He added that a task force has been established to oversee cleanup operations of the river, but efforts of the group have been continuously blocked by Marcopper in court.

“The Supreme Court decision will greatly help our cleanup efforts. We have a new weapon to use against Marcopper,” Mr. Jasareno added.

 

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