Philippines: Thousands protesting open pit gold mine

Philippines: Thousands protesting open pit gold mine

Philippines: Thousands protesting open pit gold mine img_0922-128x96

Thousands of local villagers in the Masbate province of the Philippines, are in their second week of protesting the “unwelcome and unsafe” presence of the Filminera Mining Corporation (FMC).

Working in partnership with Australia/Canada-based company, Central Gold Asia (CGA), Filminera’s open pit gold mine in Aroroy was scheduled to be fully operational on March 20th, but a massive show of local opposition halted the company from moving ahead.

On March 14, as many as 4,000 villagers from Aroroy barricaded themselves in front of the mine site.

A battalion of soldiers was flown in to protect the mine site soon after the protest began, reports the CBCP. A second report from the CBCP explains that, as of March 18, there were “about 50 armed men belonging to Alpha Company 22nd CAFGU Battalion who are roaming around the mining site, while three boats of the 9th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army are anchored at the municipality’s shores and most of its men are conducting check points and searches.”

Fortunately the military hasn’t taken any action yet, but they could make a move at any moment.

Meanwhile, the company has declared a “five-day work holiday” at the mine, and given away free banquets, bingo socials “and all sorts of sports” to try and hollow-out the protesters’ legitimate demands.

The villagers are asking the government to revoke Filminera’s mining permit, and to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 “which favors foreign companies” over environmental protection, human rights, and indigenous peoples rights.

Philippines: Thousands protesting open pit gold mine img_1050-128x96

A number of primary concerns are fueling the demands, as the diocese of Masbate Social Action Foundation Inc. (DIMASAFI) explains in a recent statement:

Central Gold Asia, at the beginning of its activity has painted a rosy picture before the eight (8) impacted communities with promises of employment and social development. After years of exploration, it began to show its ugly face:

  • An open pit mining with wide tracks of land being scraped while mountains and hills are being flattened, leaving the communities agape at the unexpected sight;
  • farmers being displaced with meagre monetary compensation and relocated in nearby cattle grazing land with no possibility of farming activities;
  • the small scale miners with thousands of dependents being driven out of their place of work resulting in their scampering everywhere to dig for their survival;
  • rivers being closed with embankment for the construction of the tailings pond, and some rivers rerouted, with the consequent drying up of rice fields and fish ponds and water source of a nearby community;
  • age-old trees being bulldozed with plants and crops to the disappointment of farmers who have tilled the land for many years;
  • the source of drinking water that serves the nearby community being cut off;
  • the port of Barrera, a long time source of livelihood of the people residing along the coastlines, now being made the catch basin of the mine toxic wastes in case of overflow and the possible contamination of the 21,000 hectares of 68 fishpond owners in 9 barangays.

The situation for local communities will continue to deteriorate if the mine becomes fully operational.

However, if support and solidarity is an indication, it’s that the mine will never see the full light of day.

As of March 23, the protest is attended by at least 7,000 villagers, fisherfolk, and other concerned citizens. Several NGO’s and Ecumenical groups, including the Catholic Church, have also expressed their support for the villagers.

It appears that the local government supports them aswell. Aroroy’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (legislature) “has slammed them for lacking even the basic requirement of an Environment Compliance Certificate,” notes a press release from Alyansa Tigil Mina, a coalition of NGO’s opposed to large scale mining. “It was also recently revealed that FMC lacks a Mayor’s permit and a business permit.”


  • Rodne R. Galicha (ATM Sites of Struggles Officer): 09087421905
  • Marcial Velasco/Danilo Corpuz (ACRA Members of the Board): 09209190274
  • E-mail: Website:



Exxon Valdez oil-spill recovery still is work in progress, 20 years later

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Twenty years ago, Cordova fisherman John Renner was poised for the spring herring harvest in Prince William Sound. He had a 50-foot seiner packed with nets and fuel, and the galley loaded with deer, moose and other fixings to feed his four-person crew for up to a month.

Each day, he monitored reports from state biologists for word that the herring’s sac roe — a fish-egg delicacy in Japan — had ripened.

“The herring fishery was the pinnacle of seining,” Renner said. “It was the Super Bowl of fishing. The best, most competitive guys.”

Senecas endorse plan for radioactive waste cleanup

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The Seneca Nation of Indians has endorsed a plan calling for the digging up and removal of all radioactive waste from the West Valley nuclear waste site in Cattaraugus County.

The nation agrees with a recent cleanup study that found removing toxic material from the site is the best way to ensure the health and safety of the population and ecosystem.

“We want this toxic and nuclear time bomb, which the [Seneca Nation] had nothing to do with, removed from upstream proximity to our lands,” Seneca President Barry E. Snyder Sr. said in a statement Monday announcing the tribe’s position. A spokesman said Seneca officials would not be available to comment beyond the statement.


Elouise Brown, Dooda’ (NO) Desert Rock,, 505-947-6159

Dooda (NO) Desert Rock is making this news release because of questions we are getting from concerned land users, and some Navajo Nation Council delegates, on the status of the proposed Desert Rock power plant. This is what we know:

This morning our attorney got an email from Torsten Schackel, the acting secretary of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva, Switzerland. It stated that he received a copy of our communication to the Committee on the issue of Environmental Protection Agency discrimination against Navajos in the Shiprock area by failure to regulate pollution (and health problems suffered by Navajos in the Shiprock area), and he asked for an electronic copy of the communication. Our attorney immediately sent one, and the response was that the Committee will consider our communication when it does a follow-up on the United States report on discrimination in August of this year.

There is an appeal disputing the issuance of a permit under the Clean Air Act that is pending before the US Environmental Appeals Board of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). We recently received a copy of the “amicus curiae” (“friend of the tribunal”) brief of Physicians for Social Responsibility. It lays out the health problems that coal-fired power plants cause very well, and it helps show why our discrimination complaint against the US EPA is valid. The appeal is still in progress.

In the meantime, the Region 9 office of the US EPA in San Francisco withdrew the Clean Air Act permit for the proposed desert rock power plant to get public comments on the question of whether it should regulate carbon dioxide emissions at the Desert Rock plant. We submitted our comments, and they say that a common-sense reading of the Clean Air Act shows that carbon dioxide should be regulated and there should be a “best available control technology” (“BDCT”) requirement for any permit. We agree with the New Mexico Environmental Protection Agency on that, and we have been communicating with that agency to show that grassroots Navajos support its position.

Research shows that the federal Environmental Protection Agency was aware that Navajos in the Shiprock area have respiratory problems from two existing power plants at five times the average rate, and ten times that rate for children under five and adults over 56 years old, prompted Dooda Desert Rock to file a discrimination complaint against the EPA with its outside discrimination investigation unit and to inform the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The EPA acknowledged receipt of the discrimination complaint and we are waiting for a ruling on whether the complaint will be accepted. It is based on Title VI of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits federal government involvement in discrimination.

We recently participated in a talk show program of “Native America Calling” and Nathan Plagens, of the Desert Rock project, said that he was not aware that the US EPA advised the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the health risks Navajos are suffering from the two existing power plants.

Finally, both the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs reopened an investigation of a right-of-way permit for a portion of the transmission line in New Mexico because of questions about adverse impacts.

Our assessment of the situation is that while the pending air permit appeal, receipt of public commentary on carbon dioxide regulations, and rethink of the federal right-of-way approval still leave open the possibility there will be federal approval of the proposed Desert Rock power plant, the Obama administration is buying time to study its options. In the long run, coal-fired power plants will be a thing of the past.

The Navajo Nation hosted a preparatory meeting of the North American Region of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on March 13-14, 2009 in Window Rock, AZ. The draft report from that meeting shows that there is consensus among indigenous groups in North America that we need to get serious about global warming.

We are also studying recent litigation that uses the law of public nuisance and a landmark decision in favor of an injunction brought by the State of North Carolina against the Tennessee Valley Authority that ruled that coal-fired power plants can be regulated as a public nuisance. We are studying the implications of that ruling for the Navajo Nation.

Via Gmail

What governments offer to victims of nuclear tests

A look at where some leading nuclear powers stand on offering compensation to victims of nuclear tests.

UNITED STATES: The U.S. is the only nation that currently compensates nuclear test victims. Since the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was enacted in 1990, more than $1.38 billion in compensation has been approved. It goes to people who took part in the tests, notably at the Nevada Test Site, and to anyone exposed to the radiation.

FRANCE: The French government offered Tuesday to compensate victims for the first time. A draft bill to be submitted to parliament soon would allow payments to people who suffered health problems related to the tests. The payouts would be available to victims’ descendants and would include Algerians, whose country was part of France when the French started nuclear testing in the Sahara in 1960. Victims say the eligibility requirements are too narrow.

BRITAIN: No formal British government compensation program exists. Nearly 1,000 veterans of Christmas Island nuclear tests in the 1950s are seeking to sue the Ministry of Defense for negligence. They say they suffered health problems and were warned of potential dangers only after the experiments.

RUSSIA: Decades afterward, Russia offered compensation to veterans who were part of the 1954 Totsk test, in which a Hiroshima-yield bomb was set off and then soldiers were sent in to test how fighting would proceed in a post-blast environment. Anti-nuclear groups say there has been no blanket government compensation for other tests. There was no compensation to civilians sickened by the Totsk test.

CHINA: China’s nuclear program is highly secretive, as are its atomic tests in remote deserts in a Central Asian border province. Anti-nuclear activists say there is no known government program for compensating victims.

Via Gmail

E.P.A. Plans Closer Review of Mountaintop Mining Permits

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In a sharp reversal of Bush administration policies, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday that the agency planned an aggressive review of permit requests for mountaintop coal mining, citing serious concerns about potential harm to water quality.

The administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, said her agency had sent two letters to the Army Corps of Engineers on Monday in which it expressed concern about two proposed mining operations in West Virginia and Kentucky involving mountaintop removal, a form of strip mining that blasts the tops off mountains and dumps leftover rock in valleys, burying streams.

The letters recommended that the corps deny the West Virginia permit application and that the Kentucky application be revised to ensure the protection of streams.

‘Systemic failures’ led to death of two sailors on submarine

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Two sailors were killed on a nuclear-powered submarine under the Arctic as a result of “systemic failures” and a “culture of complacency”, a coroner said yesterday.

Anthony Huntrod, 20, from Sunderland, and Paul McCann, 32, from Halesowen, West Midlands, died when an oxygen generator unit exploded while HMS Tireless was on an exercise with the US navy 170 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, two years ago.

Delivering a verdict which was strongly criticised by one of the families, Sunderland coroner Derek Winter told the court that “systemic failures led to the contamination and damage” of the generators which caused them to explode.