A lagoon in southern Argentina turned pink. The image looks like a story, but it is real. The Corfo lagoon, in the Patagonian city of Trelew, more than 1,300 kilometers south of Buenos Aires, was painted magenta. The causes are not confirmed, but the incident reflects the existing tensions between the fishing industries, waste treatment companies and different layers of local politics.
Natalia Cartolano lives 16 kilometers from the lagoon, a few meters from other lagoons with fishing and industrial waste in the provincial capital and is the president of a group of neighbors who, for a week, have maintained a road block demanding a response environment by the local government.RELATED
On hot days and the stale smell that polluted waters give off, they barely let them breathe, Natalia tells elDiario.es. Although the smells are not exclusive to the Corfo lagoon, “that’s the only place where we saw the pink-tinged liquids. We think it has to do with a mixture of chemicals, although there must be something else,” he explains.
The causes of the lagoon pigmentation are not yet confirmed by scientific researchers. The doctor of the Institute of Hydrobiology of the province of Chubut, Alicia Viviana Sastre, in charge of carrying out the microscopic analysis of the water, in dialogue with this medium, says that she prefers not to risk any hypothesis until she knows the results that were requested by the Ministry Provincial Environment. “Only when we perform microscopic analysis of the sample will we be able to tell if the color is due to a proliferation of microalgae,” he explains.
From science they are prudent. Norma Santielli, a researcher at the same institute, explains to this medium that it is possible that it is the product of some chemical compound. “To be able to affirm with certainty the cause of the color, physicochemical, bacteriological and microalgae analyzes must be carried out, which we are in a position to identify,” he says.
The researchers work with organisms that, when found in certain environments, can produce the appearance of various colors in the water. “We have experience in analysis of microalgae in stabilization ponds, normally as they are environments with a high load of organic matter and nutrients, it is normal for them to present color changes due to blooms of types of microalgae that, depending on the pigment they contain, give them different colors. bodies of water, “explains Santielli.
Anyway, there is a previous question and it is, in any case, what generates the appearance of these algae and if it is possible that others are its causes. So far, the only certainty is that the hypotheses on the coloration of the lagoon hide a combination of local interests.
On the one hand, the most widespread explanation is based on reports of pollution caused by fishing industries that dump chemical residues that alter the composition and color of the water, preventing the life of plants and fish in the area.
Héctor Chechic, manager of GP Inversiones, the company responsible for the treatment of waste and liquid effluents generated by the industry authorized in the area, explains to elDiario.es that the color “has to do with the overturning of effluents from fisheries that are generated in their production process, that do not have any treatment and that end up dumping into a lagoon that is not suitable for the discharge of these contaminated tributaries. The pink color is generated by the sodium metabisulfite that these fishing companies use as preservatives to process prawns for export, “explains Chechic.
However, for Ariel Juan Testino, specialist in Environmental Engineering and Technology and responsible for the design of effluent treatment plants in a group of fisheries, the pink color in the water is “normal”. “For those of us who are in the environmental issue it is a common thing. Every time we go to a water reserve that has a high organic load, some degree of salinity and under certain temperature conditions, bacteria appear that impart that pink color to the To think that a liquid from a fishery is going to cause an environmental disaster due to its toxicity is to pretend to do a business with its liquids, “he says.
Chechic responds to this argument that “there is no possibility of bacterial life in a lagoon that has sodium metabisulfite that destroys any biological system”. For Testino, “there is a declared war against those who can occupy a part of the environmental business” between the different waste treatment companies. “
And politics also plays. The issue brings out the fights between different political currents that do not end up assuming their responsibility in controlling the situation. From the Government of Trelew they argue: “Since the beginning of the year we have expressed our concern to the provincial government, but we have not had a response. The Ministry of Environment is the one that has the capacity to analyze what is happening there. The color itself It itself does not determine too much. What we need to know is whether this discharge is being controlled and what are the reasons why the lagoon has the color it has, “Federico Ruffa, Trelew’s government secretary, explains to elDiario.es.
In the middle, local environmentalists, such as Pablo Landa, denounce that the “effluents are being dumped without treatment and without the fishing plant that should take care of it, in the vicinity of a populated neighborhood of Rawson, being finished.”
Perhaps, laboratory studies can explain some of everything that the water of the lagoon hides when it turns pink.