The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has proposed to conduct a comprehensive study about mercury contamination in Barangay Santa Lourdes to determine suitable rehabilitation strategies for the area which has affected the health condition of many of its residents.
Alvin Requimin, chief of the Mineral Land Survey of MGB-MIMAROPA and Project Manager of the PQMI Rehabilitation Program told Palawan News on Tuesday that they are proposing a P17 million research and development fund from their central office for the study.
“Ito ay para sa overall rehabilitation ng abandoned mine site. Titingnan din yung history ng lugar, mga studies at inputs ng mga technical person, review ng mga related literature tungkol dito. May mga gagawing piloting sa area para malaman kung akma o angkop ba doon para rehabilitation ng abandoned mine site,” Requimin said in a telephone interview.
A project document obtained by Palawan News indicated that the research seeks to determine the physical, biological and socio-economic condition of the study area, determine the extent of mercury contamination, generate information on appropriate rehabilitation technologies to manage and control mercury poisoning, conduct of demonstration plantation, and transfer and disseminate the generated technologies to target clienteles.
Requimin explained that among the activities of the research and development program includes the determination of heavy metals contamination level, flora and fauna diversity assessment, Socio-Economic and Institutional Impact of Mercury Mining Operations, Phytostabilization of Landslide Prone Areas, Potentials of Pill bugs as Zoo-remediators, Selected Organic Filter Media for Heavy Metal Adsorption, Transfer and Extension Services of Mine Rehabilitation Technologies: Case Studies of Sta. Lourdes and Tagburos Pit Lake.
“Itong sinasabi na pill bugs as zoo-remediators ay para itong mga ipis na ilalagay doon sa lupa. Marami pang gagawing mga studies and testings dito. Kasi itong pill bugs o parang maliliit lang na ipis ay effective remediators of heavy metals,” Requimin said.
The target duration of the project is from 2018 until 2023 and this will be executed by Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau, and Mining and Degraded Areas Rehabilitation Research Center which are an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“Sa ngayon ay meron tayong project proposal na pini-present, and this is part of the process of funding proposal para ma-aprubahan ng EMB central office,” he added.
Jovic Fabello, information officer of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) also told Palawan News that they visited recently in Brgy. Sta. Lourdes together with the DENR and its attached agencies to inspect the site and discuss about the proposed project. DENR Assistant Secretary for Mining Concerns, Asec. Nonita Caguioa was present during the said visit.
“Ang pagbisita sa sanitary landfill ay parte ng schedule ng DENR sa kanilang pagpi-present ng project proposals sa kanilang gagawin sa abandonadong minahan ng PQMI. Ito ay isang site visit para makita nila first hand ang lugar. Ito ay pinangungunahan ni Asec. Nonita Caguioa” Fabello said.
On December 29, 2014, a MOA between the MGB and City Government of Puerto Princesa was signed for the rehabilitation of the abandoned mine of the Palawan Quicksilver Mines, Inc. (PQMI) with a budget of P15 million.
There are three projects being implemented under the agreement, including pit lake outer perimeter fencing, pit lake inner perimeter fencing, and slope protection, vegetation and construction of 3-meter “hike-jog-bike” pathway with park lighting.