"Virtual March" launched against sea-polluting Australian mining firm

Press release - August 11, 2006
Greenpeace today launched a "virtual march" against Lafayette's mining operations which caused toxic pollution in the rich marine ecosystem of Rapu-Rapu Island in the Philippines.

People around the world can now voice their opposition against the  ongoing pollution by logging on to www.greenpeace.org.ph and by  clicking the banner that says "Stop the Mine, Save our Seas". At the virtual march page, people can send photos to join the online protest  and sign a cyber-petition to stop the mine from further inflicting damage to an area known as feeding grounds of the whale shark, is  home to five of the seven known marine turtles in the world, and is  an exceptionally rich fishing ground.

The Lafayette mine was penalized and ordered to stop last year after two mine spills released cyanide and other contaminants into the sea around the island, causing massive fish kills. Subsequent investigations by a Presidential Fact-finding Committee in April-May 2006 revealed admissions from Lafayette officials that the company had been mining beyond its capacity even while the structural safeguards meant to minimize environmental damage were not yet completed. The government, however, allowed Lafayette to continue operations despite these environmental damages by granting the company a 30-day test run on July 11, 2006.

A leak occurred during operations two days into the test run, but the government was quick to dismiss this as a minor incident. Less than two weeks later on July 18, 2006, residents reported a fish kill in the island's Mirikpitik creek. Residents have since reported more fish kills in creeks leading out from the mine into the sea, but so far, aside from dismissing the incidents as results of "sabotage," there has been no active and convincing response on the part of the company and the government to verify and explain these reports.

"With Lafayette at work, the country is again in a countdown towards the toxic pollution of our seas. We are asking people around the world to join our virtual march against Lafayette mine and help stop marine pollution," said Beau Baconguis of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Communities in cyberspace provide a powerful help for Greenpeace in its mission is to protect the environment. Greenpeace cyber-activists, who number in hundreds of thousands, helped foster positive changes in international regulations and forced companies to withdraw from environmentally-damaging practices. By empowering the online community to act against environmental abuses, Greenpeace was able to deliver several victories for the environment.

Here is a list of recent environmental victories with the help of cyber-activists:

"    June 2006 - Dell promises to remove the worst toxic chemicals from it products, closely following the move of its rival HP. LG, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Sony Ericsson have already made commitments to eliminate the use of BFR's and PVC in the near future.

"    April 3, 2006: Months of consumer actions, online activism and more than 100,000 emails from Ocean Defenders everywhere, seafood suppliers Gorton's, Sealord and parent company Nissui withdraw their active support for Japanese whaling. Whalers announce that the 32 percent share in whaling operations owned by these commercial corporations will be transferred to a "public interest entity." The retreat isolates whaling economically and probably scuppers plans to find new markets for whale products.

"    March 22, 2005:  Xerox agrees to stop buying timber pulp from StoraEnso, the Finnish national logging company which is cutting down one of Europe's last remaining ancient forests.  The company agrees a new procurement policy, ensuring that suppliers do not source timber from 'old-growth forests, conservation areas or other areas designated for protection.'

"    September 30, 2004: Cyberactivists in Japan stopped beer manufacturer Asahi from introducing  recycling-unfriendly and unreturnable plastic bottles.

"    September 1, 2004: Ford Europe announce a reversal in the decision to scrap its fleet of fuel efficient electric Th!nK City cars. With help from cyber-acivists, Greenpeace convinced Ford to Th!nk Again. When charged by electricity from renewable sources, these cars help fight the biggest threat to our planet: climate change.

"    February 7, 2003: McDonalds in Denmark bows to pressure and takes a leadership position in opening its first restaurants that use no climate-killing chemicals for refrigeration. A campaign by Greenpeace cyberactivists three years ago led to a similar decision by Coca Cola to phase out HFC/HCFCs and adopt Greenpeace's innovative "Greenfreeze" technology.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner, +63 917 803 6077 Lea Guerrero, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969