Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"BBC World Service"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
October 11, 2005
Podcasts

ARCHIVE: Placer Dome

Listen



The Mogpog River, Marinduque Island. The red/orange colour and Oxfam's scientific studies indicate acid mine drainage and contamination by heavy metals.



A representative of the Filipino government was in Las Vegas last week to file suit against the 5th largest mining company in the world. Placer Dome was once a major stockholder in a copper mine on a South Pacific island where it mined more than $1-billion of the metal. The suit seeks reparations for widespread environmental consequences that are being felt on the island as well as clean up of what island residents call an imminent danger. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.

LINKS:

PLACER DOME

USGS Report

DIAMOND MCCARTHY

MINEWATCH CANADA

PICTURES BY OXFAM AUSTRALIA

REYES: I am the governor.

PLASKON: Carmencita Reyes, the governor of an island 96 miles south of Manila in the Philippines, was here last week to tell Las Vegans of an area that was once like paradise.

REYES: Our coral reefs use to be like Tubataja, some of the best in the world, but now they are all covered in tailings.

PLASKON: The mine tailing are not only in the ocean but in a river too. According to a may 2000 United States Geological Survey report, mine tailings in Marinduque are causing water to become quote 'quite acidic' with high concentrations of metals including copper, iron, aluminum, manganese and zinc. The report says sediments from these metals are detrimental to fish and invertebrates living on the river bottom.

REYES: We used to have the coconut crabs they are extinct now, and shrimp is no more, no more shrimps, no more crabs.

PLASKON: Its not just the aquatic life that's in trouble says Reyes. So are some of the islands 217-thousand residents.

REYES: Using the water have recognized as having cancer of the rectum and we were advised by the health department not to use the water even for swimming purposes.

PLASKON: She directed the audience to photos of island residents with grotesque sores on their legs - people who work in the river. A lot of these toxic tailings were released in 1996 when a plug at the bottom of a mining pit failed, spilling 53 million cubic feet of ground up rock into a major river through the capital city. That's when the majority share-holder sold its interest in the mining company.

REYES: It has abandoned us, nowhere to be found in Marinduque or any other place in the Philippines, leaving us as desolate as ever unspeakable poverty.

PLASKON: The USGS report says that other mine tailings dams left behind need to be monitored so that they do not burst as well. A 2003 New Scientist article says it would take the equivalent of a line of dump trucks encircling the earth to clean it up. Walter Scott is a Texas attorney that works regularly in the Philippines.

SCOTT: We have been given a mandate. Find Placer Dome and sue it where it can be found.

PLASKON: He found the mining company Placer Dome operating here, in Nevada and filed suit seeking un-specified damages. Though Placer Dome is a Canadian-based company Neil Peck of Colorado, also working on the suit, explains why they filed here.

PECK: It is important to Nevada because a company has been here for four decades mining on a vast scale taking out substantial natural resources and in exchange for that it has made an agreement to subject itself to the jurisdiction of the state.

PLASKON: In 2004 Placer Dome derived 17-percent of it's 6-billion dollars in revenue from Nevada. Placer Dome Investor Relation's Manager Megan Brown responded to the suit, saying it spent more than 30 million dollars and 18 months monitoring the island after the spill and determined there were not severe impacts.

BROWN: At the time that the incident happened we stepped forward and took some steps to contain the problem we compensated those effected. We acted diligently to be a positive presence on the island in the absence of any other party who was willing to provide the work and funding.

PLASKON: Filipino law wouldn't allow a foreign company to own the national resources entirely, so Brown says Placer Dome isn't entirely responsible. It only held a 39 percent stake of the Marinduque Company, which was listed on the Filipino stock exchange.

BROWN: Most of our operations, we are the owner and at least a 51 percent share-holder.

PLASKON: Texas attorney Water Scott contends that Placer Dome was in control of Marinduque mines.

SCOTT: To answer your question very specifically, in fact Placer Dome designed constructed, operated and controlled the agency from day one. They had their own resident managers, if you were to ask the governor, Marinduquens had a pick and shovel role, everything was done by Placer Dome.

PLASKON: This suit comes at a time when international mining companies are increasingly operating off-shore.

BROWN: More an more the gold is not being found in the first world.

PLASKON: Brown, of Placer Dome said her company conducts a thorough risk analysis on each country before operating there to ensure it meets environmental regulations. Placer Dome has 16 mines in 7 countries. Last year it derived 64 percent of gold revenue from mining in the US, Cnada and Australia. 36 percent came from operations in Tansania, Chile, Africa and Papua New Guinea. Texas attorney Scott says international mining operations are falling under greater scrutiny.

SCOTT: Have we been contacted with respect to what is going on in Papua New Guinea? Yes frankly have we been contacted with what is going on with Newmont in Indonesia, the answer is yes, the bottom line is that a very large spot light is being placed on very large mining companies when they are trying to move off shore. So what they can't do in Canada and the United States they can do off-shore.

PLASKON: The suit is similar to one against multinational mining company, Newmont in Indonesia. American Richard Ness is director the Denver-based company's local subsidiary. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $68,000 if convicted of dumping mercury and arsenic-laced pollutants into an Indonesian bay.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

See discussion rules.

Archives

Apr 4, 2009 | Drug Donation Program
Nevada lawmakers are debating the creation of a program that would help cancer patients get expensive prescription drugs for less.

Mar 13, 2009 | Budget Wrangling
As state lawmakers wrestle with Nevada's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, there are several plans afoot aimed at softening the next economic bust.

Mar 2, 2009 | Autism
The cost of treating children with autism can be $24,000 to $40,000 per child per year according to the Autism Coalition of Nevada. A bill before the Nevada Legislature aims to help families pay for the care.

Feb 16, 2007 | Chinese New Year
This weekend marks a celebration of Chinese New Year. KNPR's Rick Andrews reports on how the holiday is being celebrated by the valley's growing Asian community.

Dec 7, 2006 | Food and Beverage
The economy of scale for food and beverage operations in Las Vegas means any edge in efficiency is real money. Rick Andrews reports on a software product scoring with food and beverage managers looking at the bottom line...and what you're likely to order.

Nov 15, 2006 | Global Gaming Expo
The Global Gaming Expo trade show and conference got underway Tuesday in Las Vegas. Vendors showcase their latest wares including new slot machines.

Nov 1, 2006 | Stardust Memories
When it opened in 1958 the Stardust was the world's largest hotel. Now, after more than 48 years, it's closed.

Sep 27, 2006 | Nevada Northern Railway
The 'Nevada Northern' is celebrating its centenial anniversary. News 88.9's Rick Andrews went on a tour of the museum with executive director Mark Bassett.

Jun 30, 2006 | Standing Up for Ringo
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley tells the story of how she saw the Beatles in Las Vegas in August 1964.

Jun 29, 2006 | Sports Supplements
From fortified cereals to energy drinks to serious sports nutrition, people are willing to spend lots money to supplement their diets. Rick Andrews reports on the business of sports supplements.

May 25, 2006 | Love
Wednesday Cirque du Soleil provided a glimpse of their much anticipated show based on the music of the Beatles. Flo Rogers reports on Love.

May 24, 2006 | Telecommunications
A Senate telecommunications bill currently being considered includes provisions on most everything, but some worry that controversial measures will derail the entire package.

May 16, 2006 | Nanotech
Universities across the country are spending millions to expand nano technology research...manipulating molecules 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Rick Andrews reports on nano research at UNLV.

Apr 24, 2006 | Earthscope
Hualapai Mountain Park, near Kingman, has been chosen by the National Science Foundation to be home to a seismic monitoring station. Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

Apr 18, 2006 | Anatomical Donation for Science
In the second of two reports exploring innovative medical facilities in the Valley, Rick Andrews visits the Medical Education and Research Institute of Nevada in Henderson.

Apr 12, 2006 | Immigration Reform Stalled
Immigration legislation in the U.S. Senate is at a standstill. Many in the Republican Party blame Nevada Democrat, Senator Harry Reid for the impasse. Jill Morrison reports from Capitol Hill.

Apr 1, 2006 | New Plans for Nellis
The first of April brings news that a large piece of military land in Las Vegas may be redeveloped.

Mar 28, 2006 | Test Site Worker Compensation
Senator Harry Reid is trying to get compensation for Test Site workers who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, but never compensated.

Feb 27, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alice Keys
Alice Keys has been active in the African American community for decades and known through her association with the Moulin Rouge Casino. Here's her recollection of meeting one of the great African Americans of the last century.

Feb 21, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe
When close friends interview each other, the stories are often more intimate and revealing than talking to a reporter. A case in point is Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe talking about their hopes for their adopted son.

© 2014 NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO   
Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.