At least 15 quarry operators extracting aggregates around Mayon Volcano were found to have violated their permits and were recommended for appropriate sanctions, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) said on Monday.
In a phone interview, Guillermo Molina, MGB regional director, said the eight groups of Task Force Quarry investigators sent by Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu found out that of 106 operators granted permits, 15 did not comply with provisions of their license to operate issued by the provincial government of Albay.
Quoting investigation report, he said nine operators were found extracting sand and gravel in areas outside of their designated areas while the other six operators either have no permits or were operating with expired permits.
He said, “quarry regulations dictate that an operator is allowed to extract aggregate in river channels not to exceed five hectares of a town”.
Documents gathered named some operators that could be meted with sanctions as Sanrho Builders, John Michael Freno, Lawrence Lubiano, NFH Construction, WCD Construction and Supply, AMEG Construction and Supply, Maria Lourdes Leoncito, Sunwest Construction (Legazpi), and Sunwest Construction (Daraga).
Molina said of these quarry operators, only Sunwest construction has an Industrial Sand and Gravel (ISAG) permit that allows stockpiling of extracted aggregates while the rest are considered commercial quarry operators permitted to haul and load their extracted sand and gravel materials.
Molina said based on the finding of the Task Force, the matter would be endorsed to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), which could recommend the suspension of the issued Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) or for the violators to undertake rehabilitation in the areas where quarry practices were violated.
The Task Force sent by Cimatu to determine whether the quarry operators indeed violated provisions in their issued ECC and business permits took more than a week (Nov. 7-15) to complete its probe.
Upon consultation with the local government units, it recommended the lifting of the suspension order that was issued after lahar flows flooded villages during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly, on those that are compliant with the ECC and permits. At least six people were reported to have died in the lahar flooding incident.
The task force said the finding indicates that sand and gravel extraction is situated in areas which, considering their geological and geomorphological settings, are highly prone to lahar flows.
It said the lahar deposit outside the channel confines in Guinobatan, Camalig, Tabaco City, Legazpi City is largely due to “natural processes”.
There were mining practices such as extraction outside the active river and lahar channel, over and improper extraction near existing dikes and flood controls and creation of artificial pits as well as stockpiling inside the active lahar channel that could have a significant impact in the long term and could alter the structures of the channel and would contribute to lahar flows, the Task Force noted.
It recommended the immediate relocation of residents severely affected by lahar flows in the villages of Bantayan in Tabaco City, and Travesia and San Francisco in Guinobatan town.
It also recommended a detailed study for the lahar flows that occurred in Guinobatan, Camalig, and Daraga, particularly within and along the channels in the villages of Maninila, Quirangay and Mi-isi to understand the factors that contributed to its occurrence.
It likewise recommended a further study on the erosional and depositional sites on the foot slopes of Mayon Volcano to determine the most suitable areas for sand and gravel quarrying and extraction.
Further, the Task Force batted for a policy that quarrying and extraction should only be made in the areas that get a steady supply of sand and gravel materials while areas that experienced significant net erosion should be excluded from such operations. (PNA)