Vividly hued pink lakes are a major tourism draw in many countries, but Argentina is in no rush to put its newly formed flamingo pink lake on holiday posters. And that’s because this surreal sight does not come from nature’s wonders. Instead, industrial pollution is to blame.
Corfo lagoon is located near an industrial park on the outskirts of the Argentine city of Trelew. Local news outlets report that residents have long been complaining about foul smells and other environmental issues that surround both the lagoon and the nearby Chubut River that feeds it.
More recently, residents in Trelew’s neighboring city Rawson decided to block the roads that were being used to transport processed fish waste to treatment plants on the city’s outskirts. This is when provincial authorities decided that factories should be allowed to dump their waste in the Corfo lagoon instead.
Within days, the lagoon turned pink. According to experts, the color is caused by sodium sulfite, an anti-bacterial product used by fish factories to preserve shrimp.
Blame game over Argentina’s pink lake
Environmental engineer and virologist Federico Restrepo told AFP that, by law, sodium sulfite should be treated before being dumped.
However, Juan Micheloud, who serves as the environmental control chief for Chubut, has been quick to dismiss any environmental hazards, saying:
The reddish color does not cause damage and will disappear in a few days.
Not everyone agrees though. Sebastian de la Vallina, planning secretary for the city of Trelew, insists that “something so serious” should not be dismissed.
Environmental activist Pablo Lada, meanwhile, blames the government for not being able to balance the need for a thriving local economy with sustainability. Lada sums up:
Those who should be in control are the ones who authorize the poisoning of people. Fish processing generates work… it’s true. But these are multimillion-dollar profit companies that don’t want to pay freight to take the waste to a treatment plant that already exists in Puerto Madryn, 35 miles away, or build a plant closer.
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