If photos of Chicago dying its river bright green for Saint Patrick’s Day give you the heebie-jeebies, don’t even think about reading on. An Argentinian lagoon turned hot pink last week from chemical pollution. And it stinks.
The lagoon near Trelew in the Patagonian province of Chubut is suffering from an overdose of sodium sulfite. In the best-case scenario, this chemical is used to preserve prawns slated for export. But now it is scaring locals, who are afraid they will be poisoned by pink pollution.
The pink problem started when residents of nearby Rawson got sick of trucks hauling fish waste through their streets en route to a treatment plant. They protested by blocking roads. “We get dozens of trucks daily,” said environmental activist Pablo Lada, as reported by Global News. “The residents are getting tired of it.”
Provincial authorities responded to protests by allowing factories to dump their stinky fish waste directly into Corfo Lagoon, which is now pink and very, very smelly.
Juan Micheloud, Chubut province’s environmental control chief, tried to reassure people. “The reddish color does not cause damage and will disappear in a few days,” he said. Not everybody is buying it. According to Sebastian de la Vallina, Trelew’s planning secretary, “It is not possible to minimize something so serious.”
Of course, like most places where chemical-heavy industries locate, locals very much need their jobs. About 600,000 people live in Chubut province, and the fish-related companies — many of them foreign-owned — are vital to the economy. And like many multinational companies operating in less developed places, some of the companies in Chubut don’t relish cleaning up after themselves. “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, 35 miles away, or build a plant closer,” said Lada.
For now, that pink lake stands out in aerial views like a badge of shame.
Lead image via Pixabay