Pollution turns Argentina lake bright pink

Residents have long complained of pollution and foul smells

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 29 July 2021 08:28 BST
Argentina lake turns bright pink due to pollution

A lagoon in Argentina has turned bright pink due to pollution, a development that has alarmed environmentalists.

Activists said that pollution in the lagoon in Argentina’s southern Patagonia region is caused by sodium sulfite — an antibacterial product used in fish factories. The chemical is typically used to preserve prawns for export.

Residents have also said that the pollution in the Chubut river, which feeds the Corfo lagoon and other water sources in the region, has led to a foul smell.

Pablo Lada, an environmental activist was quoted by AFP saying: “Those who should be in control are the ones who authorise the poisoning of people.” He also blamed government authorities for being lax about the residents’ concerns of pollution and foul smell.

The Corfo lagoon turned pink last week and remained the “abnormal” colour on Sunday, Mr Lada said.

Other activists have said that the chemical sodium sulfite, that has caused the discolouration of the lagoon, should, as per law, have been treated before being dumped in the water.

The chemical comes from an industrial park in Trelew.

Residents of Rawson, near Trelew where the industrial park is located, have been complaining of pollution and in recent weeks protested by blocking the roads used by trucks that carry the processed fish waste through their streets to treatment plants on the city’s outskirts. Mr Lada said: “We get dozens of trucks daily, the residents are getting tired of it.”

Due to protests in Rawson, reports said that provincial authorities granted permission for factories to dump their waste in the Corfo lagoon.

Juan Micheloud, environmental control chief for Chubut province, however, told AFP last week that the colour “does not cause damage and will disappear in a few days.” He said that “an agreement was made with a company (transporting effluent from the fisheries) to dump liquids into the Laguna de Corfo,” according to BA Times.

But Sebastian de la Vallina, planning secretary for the city of Trelew, said: “It is not possible to minimise something so serious.”

Chubut province in Argentina has a population of about 600,000 and fish processing factories hire a lot of locals in the area.

BA Times reported that the lake is 10 to 15 hectares in area, and is situated in the Industrial Park of Trelew, which was founded by Welsh settlers over 150 years ago.

Meanwhile, locals have also complained of the proliferation of insects due to pollution.

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