The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office and the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMNC) will lead a team to study the possible treatment of the mercury-contaminated lake abandoned by the Palawan Quicksilver Mines Incorporated (PQMI) in Brgy. Santa Lourdes.
Other local and national government agencies will also participate to determine how to treat the lake that had been among the sources of fish by residents in the area for a while in the past.
Engr. Rolando de Jesus, MGB regional director, made the announcement during the launching of the second phase of the rehabilitation project Friday last week.
“I could say na ito ‘yong medyo tough hurdle ng project is ‘yong sa research and treatment. [Ito ngayon] more on research. [However] continuous pa rin ‘yong ating beautification,” he said.
De Jesus said the second phase of the rehabilitation project will cost P10 million with a one-year completion timeline.
However, he admitted they still have no plans on how to decontaminate the mercury-laden water.
The community surrounding the old mine should know how to have a “life after mine, ” he said.
De Jesus said seven families have chosen to remain within the 10-meter easement zone of the pit lake despite the relocation site offered by the city government.
“Originally more than 30 families yata dito, but now may seven families pa na naiiwan. Ang primary reason [kaya] gusto naming maialis sila sa isang lugar na health-hazard,” he added.
Engr. Alvin Requimin, the project manager of the PQMI Rehabilitation, said the budget includes “earthworks, electrical works, additional three-meter wide concrete pathway, 60-meter wide fence to cover the national road, water system installation, repainting of the existing inner and outer fences, and driveway parking and information center building construction.”
Mayor Lucilo Bayron said the city government is facing several problems in the rehabilitation efforts in Sta. Lourdes.
He said he plans to plant Balayong trees in the barangay.
“Isa ito sa mga tataniman natin ng malalaki nang Balayong trees na makikita sa national highway nang sa ganoon mas madali siyang mamumulaklak,” the mayor said.
Sta. Lourdes village chief Edgar Esoy, on the other hand, expressed gratitude to the MGB, city and provincial governments for the rehabilitation efforts as it assures them of their health.
“Ang barangay council ng Sta. Lourdes ay nagpapasalamat, pati ang mga mamamayan ng Bgy. Santa Lourdes na hindi na sila matatakot na magawi sa lagoon dahil may bakod na. Sana ay malagyan pa ng guwardiya nang sa gayon pati mga hayop hindi makapunta diyan sa lagoon,” Esoy said.
The PQMI mercury mine operated from 1954 until 1976.