Greenpeace reveals new evidence of highly toxic contaminants in Rapu Rapu

Feature story - August 24, 2006
There is no doubt that toxic pollution from the mine would clearly affect the coastal and marine ecosystems of Rapu-Rapu Island. Therefore, Lafayette's mining operations in Rapu Rapu must be permanently 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.

Greenpeace and government officials from Rapu-Rapu today conducted an inspection of the island's Mirikpitik Creek, which is found to be contaminated by the Lafayette mine. Water samples taken from the creek, which leads out from the mine and into the sea, showed very high levels of toxic metals such as cadmium, copper and zinc.

Extremely high levels of heavy metals found in the samples are toxic to human, plants and animals. The 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 other local fisheries.

The mine was temporarily closed after two toxic spills last year, 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. But 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.

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 forms a perfect rich fishing ground for fishermen. Dolphins, sea turtles, egrets, and purple herons are just a common sight in this area. Marine turtles are also found in the Albay Gulf, and whale sharks in 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.

Lafayette's mining operations must be permanently stopped. Otherwise, the local ecology will face a hard-to-picture ecological disaster.

Click here to know more about the inspection

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