Last week, the waters of the Corfo lagoon, located in southern Patagonia, Argentina, turned pink and remained so until last Sunday (25). According to experts and activists, the unusual color would be the result of incorrect dumping of chemicals used in factories close to the site — and this is not the first time this has happened.
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The pink color, specifically, is caused by the presence of sodium sulphite, a product that acts as an antibacterial in fish and shrimp factories. The residues are dumped into the Chubut River, responsible for feeding the Corfo lagoon and other natural sources. In a statement to Agence France-Presse, activist Pablo Lada states that “who should be in control is the one who authorizes the poisoning of people.” In other words, the Argentine government is responsible.
It is not new that the local community complains about unpleasant odors and other environmental problems that arise near the river and the lake. By law, the sodium sulphite present in waste dumped by factories must be treated before that. The Corfo lagoon is not used for recreational or fishing purposes, so it receives runoff from the Trelew Industrial Park, so much so that this is not the first time its waters have turned pink. Despite this, the problem has intensified in recent weeks.
Tired of reporting bad odors and other problems related to dumping waste, residents in nearby Rawson blocked the path of trucks responsible for transporting and disposing of the remains from factories on the lake. Prevented from depositing their garbage there, the fishing factories obtained a provisional authorization from the local authorities for the disposal to be carried out in the Cordo lagoon.
The head of environmental control in Chubut province says the reddish color is harmless and will disappear in a few days. In contrast, Trelew’s city planning secretary says “you can’t minimize something so serious.” Activist Lada points out that, although fishing generates work, it is the companies that earn many millions of dollars, but they are exempt from the responsibility of chartering this waste to a suitable treatment plant already in place in Puerto Madryn, about 56 km from distance.