SB Mainit, Jabonga call authorities for water quality testing against alleged mining effects to Lake Mainit

The Sangguniang Bayan of Mainit, Surigao del Norte and Jabonga, Agusan del Norte recently alleged the mining operation to have effect on the fish kill lately happened in the Municipality of Mainit on April while fish deformation, malnourishment and the extinction of freshwater prawn locally known as “uyang” or “ulang” and the freshwater shrimp commonly called as “isik”. The SB revealed the allegation during the visit and presentation of the BPP by LMDA staff last November 23 and December 3, 2012 respectively.

The allegation from SB MainitPresentation to Sangguniang Bayan of Mainit, Surigao del Norte

Hon. Bernabe Mantilla informed LMDA that Mainitnons felt that there was mining effect of the Greenstone Mining operation on the current fish kill occurred last April 2012. Mr. Barillo, the BPP Project Coordinator who presented on the session last November 23, 2012 said that LMDA was already informed of the incident and collaborate it with the DENR.

The Presiding Officer Hon. Michael Mozar said that their office invited the Greenstone to present the situation of the mining operation. However, he admitted that SB office have lack of technical know-how on the real cause of the fish kill. He suggested LMDA, BFAR and DENR, the right authorities to help them find if mining has something do to with the fish kill. Mr. Barillo said that the SB suggestions will be taken to LMDA and other right authorities.

The revelation from SB Jabonga

Hon. Sebastian Bermudez informed that there is alarming observation about the vanishing of “isik” recently happened in Jabonga. He said that years before, the passengers traveling to Surigao and Butuan cities knew that they already arrived in Barangay A. Beltran and Barangay Bangayan part of Kitcharao and Jabonga, Agusan del Norte since they felt odor from the “isik” that were sundried along the national highway “but now we can no longer see it anywhere in the Jabonga” he said. Moreover, he also personally observed as a local fisherman that he caught malnourished “pijanga” (local name of freshwater Gobby) and Tilapia. He describes that pijanga and tilapia he caught have big heads but small body, which he called it as malnourished fish. He also informed that he caught fish with damaged skin, which he thought to have affected by cyanide.

Presentation to Sangguniang Bayan of Jabonga, Agusan del NorteMr. Sahibon Julasiri, the Municipal Agriculturist informed the body that he has submitted already first sample of fish species to BFAR 13, which was also, transmitted such sample to BFAR-Davao City laboratory. However, such sample is not enough to determine the degree of its condition since the fish he submitted was only preserved in freezer. He is going to submit another sample, which will be preserved by formalin to have a better outlook of the fish condition. Nevertheless, he said that there was an initial but not yet official report from the first sample he had submitted to BFAR showing the extent of cyanide effect to the fish especially those that caught somewhere in Kitcharao – Alegria boundary. There was also sample tilapia, which was directly caught from lake with bad colons or bellies.

Hon. Bermudez said that he will submit to Mr. Julasiri the good sample of fish species. Mr. Jul said that he will inform Hon. Bermudez the schedule of gathering sample species after his office can purchase formalin for sample species preservation. Mr. Natad, the BPP Assistant Project Coordinator who appeared on the session to present the project on December 3, 2012 requested Mr. Julasiri to provide LMDA the copy of the initial report of his office about the condition of the fishes in Jabonga to provide information to LMDA stakeholders. He said that LMDA as coordinating agency within Lake Mainit influence area is tasked to provide significant information to aware all stakeholders and communities in Lake Mainit.

Hon. Carlos Ongue announced also the same observation with Hon. Bermudez saying that there was already extinction of “uwang” (freshwater prawn) and “isik” (freshwater shrimp) in Lake Mainit and malnourishment of some caught fish species. He assumed that these things are now happening may be because of the effect of the mining. He also revealed that based on the reliable source he gathered, the Greenstone mining operation in Mainit and Tubod has going to release the water toxic chemicals from its mining plant, which flows to Magpayang-Pongtud River down to Lake Mainit. He explained that this alleged release of contaminated water have done during midnight.

The Presiding Office Honorable Vice Mayor Danny Moran suggested to have water quality testing and assessment in Lake Mainit to determine how safe is Lake Mainit from mining contamination. He suggested that the LMDA, BFAR and DENR shall spearhead the water quality assessment in Lake Mainit. The body also agreed the suggestion.

Meanwhile, the Program Management and Coordination Office (PMCO) of LMDA was already sending formal request to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for the water quality testing specifically the areas in Pungtod, Alegria and Magpayang, Mainit all of Surigao del Norte and  to validate the veracity of the reports. Mr. Arturo Cruje, the PMCO OIC Director is expecting favorable response and action from the BFAR as one of the partner agency of the Alliance. ■