Published on March 3, 2014
Boac River Update (As of February 2013)
BACKGROUND Upon Marcopper’s cessation of mining activities at its Tapian Pit in 1991, a 2.25 km. drain tunnel (measuring 7' x 8‘) that was used to drain the water from the pit was sealed by caving it and a three (3) meter thick concrete plug was constructed at a section located 92 m. from the outlet portal. On March 24, 1996, the rock around the 3-meter concrete plug was fractured and the plug failed. Approximately 1.6 million cubic meters of tailings was released to the 26-kilometer Boac River. The sealing of the tunnel was the priority activity right after the spillage. The first plug of the tunnel, eighty (80) meters of bitumen grouting, was completed in October 18, 1996. A second/engineered final plug was completed in August 1997. Independent experts certified the As Built Report of the Final Plug in December 24, 1997. The final plug is certified to last a thousand (1,000) years.
WHY WAS THERE NO CLEAN-UP OF THE BOAC RIVER? No Government Approved Clean-Up and Rehabilitation Plan for the areas affected by the 1996 Tailings Incident for a number of reasons: 1. The unresolved major differences among stakeholders on the final option for the disposal of the spilled tailings; 2. Inability of the National Government to exercise its State responsibility to render a decision on the Best Clean-up Option despite the availability of relevant scientific and technical studies and information for a decision to be rendered and implemented; 3. Persistent demand from the LGU, Church leaders, and local NGOs of Marinduque for a consensus among all the stakeholders on the matter of deciding on final clean-up option;
Yet, despite all the squabbling by stakeholders, THE BOAC RIVER IS BACK WITHIN PRESCRIBED ENVIRONMENTAL LIMITS. “Observations of the use of the Boac River have revealed that the public has returned to many of the traditional uses of the river. These include river quarrying, fishing, clothes washing and general road access.” - MGB COMPLETE STAFF WORK REPORT, Marcopper Mining Corporation 1996 Tailings Spillage (Report as of February 15, 2013)
“Five (5) year monitoring of the river has shown gradual recovery of the Boac River. While additional tailing materials remains mixed with gravel in levee banks, this material is not affecting the river environment from a chemical or biological perspective. Similarly, the tailings mixed with gravel, which is encapsulated in the dredge channel is removed from the surrounding environment and presents a very low risk of environmental impact.” - MGB COMPLETE STAFF WORK REPORT, Marcopper Mining Corporation 1996 Tailings Spillage (Report as of February 15, 2013)
“In general, all the scientific studies cited above on the potential effects of MMC tailings Spill suggest the remaining tailings in the Boac River has no significant broad scale environmental toxicological impacts. However, we feel that the water quality will improve further once the remnant mine tailings are finally removed and disposed appropriately.” - MGB COMPLETE STAFF WORK REPORT, Marcopper Mining Corporation 1996 Tailings Spillage (Report as of February 15, 2013)
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