Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mayon's volcanic eruption may cost a lot but also made a lot of profit!

Do you know that the Albay provincial government is getting millions from the sand and boulders of Mayon Volcano?

From year 2000 to the present the Albay Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) has collected revenues from quarrying, fees from contractors and fines amounting to P44.78 million.

Antonio Sajuela, acting PENRO head, said there are some sectors that are happy whenever Mayon Volcano erupts because this replenishes the extracted aggregates from the different river channels downslope.

"Of course, I sympathize with the thousands of evacuees as well as the damage to agricultural crops," Sajuela quipped.

He said that revenues for the provincial government come from the issuance of quarrying, contractors' clearance for infrastructure projects and fines from illegal quarrying.

In 2000, PENRO collected P3.41 million; in 2001 - P7.21 million; 2002 - P10.56 million; 2003 - P8.89 million; 2004 - P7.53 million; 2005 - P8.05 million; and as of July this year - P6.64 million, from quarrying fees.

Sajuela said Mayon aggregates are well known among construction firms. ''In fact, big construction companies like NFN owned by Roger Peyra of Camarins Sur get their aggregates at the Banao River in Ligao City as well as those from Sorsogon and as far as Samar.''

Sajuela also bared that PENRO teams are also going after illegal sand and gravel haulers. "Often they haul sand and gravel in the morning and leave in late afternoon during Saturdays and Sundays because they know we're not around."

If caught hauling gravel illegally, a four-wheel truck is fined P2,000, six-wheeler truck - P5,000 with the added fine of P1.50 per cubic meter of sand and P2.50 per cubic meter of gravel hauled.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) estimates there are 53.459 million cubic meters of volcanic debris deposited at the slopes of Mayon Volcano during the 2000 and 2001 eruptions.

Judes Dizon, senior science research specialist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) said that the sand and boulders deposited at the different river channels are of high quality.

The sand and boulders have sound specific gravity because they come from igneous rock from lava flow and pyroclastic materials spewed by the volcano unlike other aggregates which are mixed with earth, Dizon said.

Eng'r Manuel Azurin, head of Albay engineering district of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), admits that the sand from Mayon Volcano is of high quality.

Azurin said stones and boulders are good for building construction and the sand is ideal for road construction.

"But the boulders are not good for road construction because based on our test they (the boulders) cause tire abrasion," Azurin said in an interview.

Azurin urged the provincial government to dredge the heavily silted channels of Bonga and Buyoan at the southeast sector of the volcano facing this city and the town of Daraga and Sto. Domingo, after the engineering district has stopped dredging activities in 2002 and 2003 with 10 per cent of the 53 million cubic meters of deposits removed.

"It's necessary to desilt these major river channels to prevent lahar and mud flows from spilling over to residential areas," he added.

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