Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Argentina lake turns frightful bright pink from waste pollution



Argentina lake turns frightful bright pink from waste pollution

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Aerial view of a lagoon that turned pink due to a chemical used to help shrimp conservation in fishing factories near Trelew, in the Patagonian province of Chubut, on July 23. AFP

Argentina lake turns frightful bright pink from waste pollution

A lagoon in Argentina’s southern Patagonia region has turned bright pink in a striking yet frightful phenomenon experts and activists blame on pollution by a chemical used to preserve prawns for export.

The colour is caused by sodium sulfite, an anti-bacterial product used in fish factories, whose waste is blamed for contaminating the Chubut river that feeds the Corfo lagoon and other water sources in the region, according to activists.

Residents have long complained of foul smells and other environmental issues around the river and lagoon.

“Those who should be in control are the ones who authorise the poisoning of people,” environmental activist Pablo Lada said, blaming the government for the mess.

The lagoon turned pink last week and remained the abnormal colour on Sunday, said Lada, who lives in the city of Trelew, not far from the lagoon and some 1,400km south of Buenos Aires.

Environmental engineer and virologist Federico Restrepo said the colouration was due to sodium sulfite in fish waste, which by law should be treated before being dumped.

The lagoon, which is not used for recreation, receives runoff from the Trelew industrial park and has turned the colour of fuchsia before.

But residents of the area are fed up.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A lagoon in Argentina’s southern Patagonia region has turned bright pink in a striking yet frightful phenomenon experts and activists blame on pollution by a chemical used to preserve prawns for export. AFP

In recent weeks, residents of Rawson, neighbouring Trelew, blocked roads used by trucks carrying processed fish waste through their streets to treatment plants on the city’s outskirts.

“We get dozens of trucks daily, the residents are getting tired of it,” said Lada.

With Rawson off limits due to the protest, provincial authorities granted authorisation for factories to dump their waste instead in the Corfo lagoon.

“The reddish colour does not cause damage and will disappear in a few days,” environmental control chief for Chubut province, Juan Micheloud, said last week.

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

Plants that process fish for export, mainly prawns and hake, generate thousands of jobs for Chubut province, home to some 600,000 people.

Dozens of foreign fishing companies operate in the area in waters under Argentina’s Atlantic jurisdiction.

“Fish processing generates work . . . it’s true. But these are multi-million-dollar profit companies that don’t want to pay freight to take the waste to a treatment plant that already exists in Puerto Madryn, 56km away, or build a plant closer,” said Lada.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Four-pillar approach in reopening of tourism: PM

    Cambodia is drawing up a four-strategy approach to promptly restore domestic and international tourism activity and put the industry on a transition pathway to a sustainable and inclusive model that is resistant to future crises, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The prime minister made

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Cambodian bride ‘badly treated, held captive’ by Chinese man seeks help

    A Cambodian woman who travelled to China to marry a Chinese man there was “badly treated” by her husband’s family and then had to be rescued and will be returned to Cambodia to ensure her safety. The rescue operation came about after the 25-year-old