Monday, March 3, 2008

Mercury-contaminated Fish

Here we go again! Recently, local papers bannered the supposed mercury-contaminated fishes from the Davao Gulf. When I was with an environmental group, in our journal we wrote about the possible impact of the small and large-scale mining operations in Davao del Norte’s hinterlands with their effluents were coming downstream affecting ricefarms, beaches and waters of Davao Gulf.

We, as fish-eating population in the region, would be exposed to the mercury poisoning. Same is true to beach goers as the shoreline here is host to a number of beach resorts frequented by local residents. Who doesn’t know about the health menace of mercury as experienced by Japan’s infamous Minimata Disease?

From the website (http://www.american.edu/TED/MINAMATA.HTM), I lifted this information:

Over 3,000 victims have been recognized as having "Minamata Disease". It has taken some of these people over thirty years to receive compensation for this inconceivable event. In 1993, nearly forty years later, the Japanese courts were still resolving suitable compensation for the victims. Many people have lost their lives, suffered from physical deformities, or have had to live with the physical and emotional pain of "Minamata Disease". This suffering is all a result of the very wrongful and negligent acts of the Chisso Corporation who dumped mercury into the sea water and poisoned the people of Japan.

Before we dealt with one of the serious concerns related to mercury contamination when some children in Apokon (Davao del Norte) were suspected to have been poisoned by mercury in 1997. That prompted concerned organizations to dig into the matter by sending medical experts. If memory serves me right, we had Dr. Nelia Maramba from Manila who came in to conduct medical examination on the Apokon children.

I was not able to follow what happened next but I think the alarm we raised before fell on deaf ears with the contamination continuously flowing into the beaches and waters of Davao Gulf.

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