Firm faces fine for tailings leak

ITOGON, Benguet  – Benguet Corporation stands to be imposed the prescribed fines by concerned government regulatory agencies following the reported tailings leak of its Antamok tailings pond at the height of the monsoon rains from August 21-28, 2018.

Engr. Fay W. Apil, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR), said that based on initial findings, the rotten stopper boards of the company’s penstock were destroyed by the strong water current that caused the tailings leak wherein some 5,898 cubic meters of talings leaked into the Ambalanga river.

However, she reported that the company’s declaration on the volume of tailings that leaked from its tailings pond as a result of the damaged stopper boards of its penstock will still be subject to validation by the regulatory agency through the conduct of the required field survey in the affected areas.

Initially, Apil emphasized that based on a P50 per metric ton of tailings as prescribed fine, the company stands to pay to the agency over P250,000 fine excluding the fines to be imposed by the Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) for its violation of Repblic Act (RA) 6969 or the Toxic Substance, Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Act and RA 9275 or the Philippine clean Water Act.

The MGB-CAR official said the company was mandated to implement the required temporary and permanent mitigating measures to prevent the tailings leak that could affect a huge portion of the bodies of water in the area and the sources of livelihood of the concerned residents in the locality.

“We will continue to monitor the compliance of the company to the prescribed mitigating measures to contain the tailings leak. We have to ensure full compliance considering the harmful effects of the tailings to the quality of water in the different river systems,”Apil stressed.

Reynaldo S. Digamo, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR), said that BC stands to be slapped a P200,0000 fine per day of the tailings leak aside from the cases that will be elevated by the agency to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) relative to the accidental leak of its tailings pond.

He claimed BC management was given sufficient time to implement the required mitigating measures to ensure that the leaked has been effectively and efficiently addressed.

BC administration manager Lawyer Froilan Roger C. Lawilao disclosed the company is now working round the clock to contain the leak through the implementation of the prescribed mitigating measures, particularly the rechannelling and diversion of the flow of water away from the penstock.

Lawilao added that MGB-CAR recommended the permament plugging of the penstock and the subsequent construction of a spillway where the water will flow to prevent the occurrence of a similar tailings leak that could be worst.

The BC official will come out with its comprehensive plan on how to implement the required mitigating measures within the next several weeks for the assessment and evaluation of the regulatory agencies to prevent the occurrence of similar talings leak in the future that will pose a serious threat to the quality of water along major river systems in the town.  By HENT

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