Mankayan town officials are readying a damage suit against Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company for dumping asbestos-containing materials in Barangay (village) Sapid.
BY ACE ALEGRE
MANKAYAN, Benguet (348 kms north of Manila) – Mankayan town officials are readying a damage suit against Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company for dumping asbestos-containing materials in Barangay (village) Sapid.
This, after they stopped the mining giant that Mankayan town has been hosting for the past 75 years from hauling out “toxic wastes”.
The town’s council, said Councilor Willy Mendoza, approved a resolution before Holy Week to file a suit for the damage done to the town and its people.
Though the mine firm admitted dumping substances in its landfill here, giving residents reason to raise hell over concerns for their safety, it denies that the said substances are hazardous.
Mankayan town Mayor Manalo B. Galuten had expressed fears Lepanto has put the lives and future of villagers in danger for dumping in the landfill a cancer-causing substance – asbestos. Galuten holds a laboratory analysis from New Zealand which confirms that suspected asbestos containing materials has ten percent Amosite content.
Amosite, a variety of asbestos, was used primarily as a fire retardant in thermal insulation products in materials for old structures, like ceiling tiles, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The material however is now banned in most countries especially because this form of asbestos is highly friable.
Friable means it crumbles easily when damaged, thereby releasing airborne fibers which can then be inhaled by those in the vicinity of the material causing a cancer form called mesothelioma – a rare type of cancer that most often occur in the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen and heart.
Residents reported around six dump trucks surreptitiously unloading what appears to be construction debris from ceiling panels and electrical insulations last year. Officials also claim from residents complaints that the firm had been dumping similar wastes since 1994.
Though Lepanto has commissioned private firm Cleanway Corporation to haul the toxic wastes, the municipal government ordered them to stop pending the firm’s submission of the permits required by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Councilor Mendoza insisted that even though Lepanto promises to haul all the toxic wastes, they feel betrayed because the company had been dumping similar wastes for a long time.
LCMC admits that the wastes are pads and cushions that came from the company’s Makati City office that was renovated, though denying they were hazardous.
The mine firm’s manager, Magellan Bagayao in his letter to Mankayan Vice Mayor Paterno Dacanay on May 7, 2008, said that in the past 70 years, “The company (has been) committed in the protection of the environment…The incident in Sapid will not be repeated.” (Bulatlat.com)