A self-portrait: I'm off to the 7.5km artificial landmass that's the result of 16 years of dumping. The causeway is made up of toxic mine tailings (a mix that includes dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury). The causeway used to be 9kms long, the tide has been slowly eroding it into the ocean. Of course this has resulted in the death of the corals and most life in this bay. What's left are caught and eaten by fishers and their families, resulting in health problems (the father and son behind me included).

I spent my Xmas on the island of Marinduque. This is where a Canadian mining company had two “accidental” spills of toxic mine tailings into two different rivers, and purposefully dumped 200 metric tonnes of the stuff right into the bay at surface level.

Thus today, eleven years since the mines closure, the people are still suffering from severe health problems. The poison has destroyed much of the environment and what isn’t destroyed it helping to poison the people further (as in the few fish and shellfish left pass on poisons to the eater, as do the agricultural products growing in an island with toxic waste everywhere, then there’s the fact the toxic tailings are blown around by the wind so breathing ain’t so healthy either).

On Xmas eve I slept in the home of a family with acute blood poisoning in the area near where 200 mil tonnes were dumped (again, this was done on purpose). The grandfather (a fisherman) can barely walk because of open sores and tumour growing on his feet (he still fishes), the son has the same problems with the addition of having almost died–he was saved by having his leg amputated, and the grandsons (the youngest is four) also have sores on their legs.

A few years back 59 children from the area of the dumping were chosen to be tested for heavy metal poisoning. All 59 were positive. Many have already died.

The dumping continued 24 hours a day from 1975 to 1991 when the mine decided to dump it’s waste into an exhausted open pit mine. Unfortunately they didn’t do much to reinforce this pit, so in 1995 the tailings broke through and 3 million tonnes spilled into the Boac River (thus destroying the livelihoods of freshwater fishers and farmers who use the river for irrigation–not to mention more of the same health probs as above).

A self-portrait: I'm standing in the Boac River, site of the 1996 disaster (one of three on this island). There are few bridges so the locals are forced to cross on foot. The still noticably blue-green water is biologically dead as the majority of mine tailings were left in the river, or merely piled up on it's banks--eroding back into the water when it rains. Crossing the river in this fashion has caused serious health problems and death.

Not much has been done to help the people of this island (really, as in they deny “legal” responsibility for the Calancan Bay dumping, they claim the Mogpog River spill was an “act of god,” and though they admit culpability for the Boac spill, not many have gotten compensation—those that have only getting compensated for damages to property).

The Canadian company: PlacerDome, divested itself of the situation a few years after the Boac spill, and have since been bought out by Barrick Gold. In the meantime the people there continue to eat the seafood, drink the islands water (also contaminated), breath the air, and use the ocean and rivers…