Monday, January 30, 2012

Calancan Bay Seeks For Attention

Instead of finishing my first draft for my thesis proposal, which is due later, lemme just share a bit of something of what I'm working at.

Calancan Bay, Marinduque Island, Philippines

Marinduque Island, known to harbor the largest copper reserve in the Philippines, has started its mining copper operations since 1969. This mine reserve which has been operated by Marcopper Mine Corporation is known as the Mt. Tapian ore deposit whose mine tailings were discharged into Calancan Bay. For 16 years, Calancan Bay, being the dumpsite for an estimated total of no less than 200 million metric tons of toxic mine tailings, was contaminated, thus resulted to destruction of Marinduque’s river system as well as lead contamination of the populace. Metal contamination and chronic lead poisoning of victims remain untreated until today.

On 24 March 1996, the Marcopper Mine broke into global news due to a mining accident at their Marinduque mine. This has been regarded as one of the Philippines’ largest mining disasters to date. The toxic spills immediately caused flash floods affecting five villages with about 4,400 individuals with their sources of drinking water contaminated with chemical elements from the mine tailings and fishes killed (Esguerra, 2003).

Detection of Heavy Metals in Calancan Bay

Although mining operations in the said area have stopped at the beginning of the 21st century, mining pollution history still results to the presence of heavy metals in the vicinity. High heavy metal, such as total copper, total lead and total zinc, concentrations were detected in the water and soil samples obtained from the waterways of Marinduque, particularly around Calancan Bay. The heavy metals concentration detected were higher than the standards prescribed by the government, the DENR, for Class SB waters – this is the classification where bodies of water which are suitable for commercial and industrial use, including ecotourism and recreational activities, are under. The occurrence of the high concentrations in the area may be due to the strong water currents which may possibly be held responsible for the enhancement of distribution of the pollutants or the heavy metals. However, levels of heavy metal concentrations vary in the soil and water samples collected, these differences observed may have also been associated with the presence of organic matter in the samples (Marges, 2011).

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