Cleanup of Philippines Asbestos Dump Ordered

Benguet, Philippines—A mining corporation in the Philippines has been ordered to clean up its act, following the discovery of asbestos-contaminated materials.

The Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC), is one of the country’s biggest producers of gold. The company is alleged to have illegally, and secretly, dumped asbestos waste material and construction debris.

Mankayan Mayor Manalo B. Galuten, in conjunction with the municipal council, has passed a resolution which will force Lepanto to account for its hazardous dumping, which took place in the region known as Sitio Sapid.

Galuten visited the dumping grounds himself, accompanied by a toxic waste management expert. The two were on hand to ensure that guidelines in the cleanup were followed; workers hired by Lepanto to perform the extraction, however, were not on hand. Only after being summoned by the mayor did Lepanto’s resident manager, Magellan Bagayao, show up at the site.

The resolution charges LCMC with having dumped over six truckloads of asbestos-contaminated materials, more than two years ago. Upon being tested, these materials, which included contaminated soil, were found to contain 10 percent amosite. Amosite, which occurs in pulverized asbestos, can lead to the rare but aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma if it is inhaled.

Proper safety precautions must be taken to prevent exposure to asbestos which, although a naturally occurring mineral, is extremely hazardous when mined or otherwise disturbed. Long used for building materials as a flexible, strong, and fire- and heat-proof additive, asbestos has been widely criticized as a health hazard and linked to mesothelioma and other deadly diseases.

LCMC had contracted out its recovery and disposal of asbestos waste materials to a company called Clearway Technology Corporation, but employees of that firm were spotted manually repacking the asbestos-containing materials in one-ton sacks. Through Lepanto, the mayor ordered these workers to cease such procedures when he learned that safe handling measures were not being employed.

Officials from Lepanto deny culpability in the matter, but the mayor pointed to the fact that the company traveled a great distance in order to bury the waste material as proof that the they knew of the materials’ toxic nature.

The mayor has further ordered that LCMC ensures strict compliance with all toxic waste disposal standards going forward. The company faces administrative and criminal charges in the improper handling of the waste material.