LUCENA CITY, Philippines– An official of Marinduque’s provincial disaster committee has voiced his apprehensions of a possible collapse of abandoned mine dams of now inactive Marcopper Mining Corporation should the area be inundated by the intense rainfall expected from Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit.)
Eleuterio Raza, provincial disaster risk reduction management council officer-in-charge, told reporters on Sunday morning that he and his team are “closely monitoring the condition of Tapian pit, Makulapnit and Maguila-guila dams,” for fears that heavy rains from Ruby could cause the abandoned dams to cave in, as these could no longer hold more water.
“The weather forecast predicts strong rains along Ruby’s path. Marinduque will be surely hit,” Raza said.
Raza said that should a dam break, there would be catastrophic flooding in the towns of Mogpog and Boac.
“We already have evacuated 1,500 residents in low lying areas particularly along riverbanks and coastlines since Saturday. Most of them have voluntarily evacuated,” the official noted.
He added that several rescue teams from the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council were also poised to respond to emergencies that may arise in the event that a dam should collapse.
The mines were abandoned when Marcopper ceased operations in 1996, after an environmentally disastrous accident; in which the plug of the Tapian pit gave way and released roughly 200 million tons of toxic materials into the Boac river.
The mines have since been in active and have been left un-rehabilitated for decades now.
In 1996, shortly after the spill, Makulapnit and Maguila-guila were both declared by the United States Geological Services to be in “imminent danger of collapsing.”