DOST to put up mercury analyzer for abandoned Santa Lourdes mines

Santa Lourdes has been the site of a mercury mining operation of the company Palawan Quicksilver Mines Inc. (PQMI) that closed down in the early 70s. (File photo)


The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has announced it is expecting the delivery this year of a “direct mercury analyzer” that will help government determine the mercury toxicity levels of mined out areas in Palawan.

Engineer Pacifico T. Sariego III, Provincial Science and Technology Director of DOST-Palawan, said the equipment, which was purchased by the government for P5.2 million will be put up in the province and will be primarily used for monitoring mercury contamination around the former mining site of the Palawan Quicksilver Mines in Barangay Santa Lourdes.

“Ito ang contribution ng DOST sa problema ng mercury contamination sa Sta. Lourdes. Hopefully ma-deliver na para by first quarter next year ay mai-put up na sa testing center, dito na mismo,” Sariego said.

He further said that the direct beneficiaries of the project will be the local government and city residents, especially those who live near the area. The information that will be generated during the process of the mercury analysis will serve as guide to the government officials and policy makers in designing an approach to treat the mercury contamination in the mined-out area. Other beneficiaries include the local water district and Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

“This will be the first of its kind in Palawan. The Direct Mercury Analyzer can analyzed soil, water and even air,” Engr. Sariego said.

Mercury contamination in the former PQMI mined-out area  was first reported in 1982 when the sediments of the fish in Honda Bay tested with positive mercury contamination. Studies were conducted to determine the Mercury concentration of lake water and sediments as well as mine waste (calcines) dumped in the periphery of the mined-out area in response to the claim of residents on possible Mercury poisoning.

A study disclosed early this year by the Department of Health showed prevalent cases of mercury poisoning among residents of Santa Lourdes and its adjascent barangay of Tagburos. The City government is undertaking a program to relocate residents from areas found to be highly contaminated with mercury.

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