Greenpeace reveals new evidence of highly toxic contaminants in Rapu Rapu

Feature story - 24 August, 2006
An inspection conducted today by Greenpeace scientists and government officials showed that toxic pollution from the Lafayette mine would clearly affect the coastal and marine ecosystems of Rapu Rapu Island. Our activists also entered the mine, hanging a banner of their conveyor belt calling for the operation to be shut down.

Security personnel from Lafayette mine company attempt to detain Greenpeace activist Heike Dierbach (Germany) during Greenpeace banner hang protest at Lafayette mine, Rapu Rapu Island, Philippines.Greenpeace activist post sign on the beach where contaminated water from the Lafayette Gold Mine on Rapu Rapu island in the Philippines enters the sea. Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is in the Philippines to campaign for the shut down of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette on Rapu-Rapu Island, Philippines, which discharged highly toxic chemicals into the pristine waters of Albay Gulf.

Greenpeace ship Esperanza at the Lafayette Mine on Rapu Rapu island, Philippines. Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is in the Philippines to campaign for the shut down of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette on Rapu-Rapu Island, Philippines, which discharged highly toxic chemicals into the pristine waters of Albay Gulf.

Greenpeace activists on the way to Rapu Rapu mine facility. Rapu Rapu Island, Philippines.24/08/06 Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is in the Philippines to campaign for the shut down of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette on Rapu-Rapu Island, Philippines, which discharged highly toxic chemicals into the pristine waters of Albay Gulf.

Greenpeace activists hang a banner at the conveyor belt of Lafayette mine, Rapu Rapu Island, Philippines. Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is in the Philippines to campaign for the shut down of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette on Rapu-Rapu Island, Philippines, which discharged highly toxic chemicals into the pristine waters of Albay Gulf.

Water samples taken from a creek, leading out from the mine and into the sea, showed very high levels of toxic metals such as cadmium, copper and zinc. 

The extremely high levels of heavy metals found in the samples are toxic to human, plants and animals. Marine organisms are likely to be impacted due to the proximity of the mine to the sea, causing harm to the coral reef. The impacts of such would be a disaster for marine biodiversity, including the whale shark, and local fisheries.

This is the same mine that was temporarily closed after two toxic spills last year. A presidential fact finding commission recommended shutting the mine down permanently.  But in July this year, a 30-day trial run commenced licensed by the government to see if Lafayette could operate without contaminating the sea. During the test run, several toxic leaks occurred. Residents have since reported more fish kills in the creeks leading out from the mine into Albay Gulf.

At stake

Greenpeace sampled the Mirikpitik Creek, one of the creeks leading out of the mine premises, at the beginning of August and found out that it is absolutely affected in its lower stretch by acid mine drainage (AMD). Ongoing exposure of these metals in dissolved forms is deadly to the aquatic organisms.

The unspoiled waters, seagrass beds and mangroves of Albay Gulf form a perfect rich fishing ground for local fishermen. Dolphins, sea turtles, egrets, and purple herons are a common sight in this area. Marine turtles are also found in the Albay Gulf, and whale sharks around Rapu Rapu. The Lafayette mine is surely a threat to the survival of these species and also of the people whose livelihood depends on the rich marine ecosystem.

Take action!

Help Rapu Rapu locals defend the ocean: Tell banks financing this mine to pull their funding.

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