Corfo lagoon in Argentina’s Patagonia region turned fluorescent pink in late July. The discoloration of the lagoon is believed to be caused by the dumping of chemical waste used to preserve prawns.
Located in southern Patagonia, the Corfo lagoon receives flow from Chubat River in Trelew. The river is a dumping waterbody for many nearby fish factories. Its chemical waste links with numerous water sources, including the 10-15 hectares Corfo lagoon.
Reaction from Environmentalist Experts and Activists
Environmental experts and activists cite ‘a preservative called sodium sulfite’ as the reason for the coloration. Federico Restrepo, an environmental engineer and virologist told AFP, “It is an antibacterial that also contaminates the waters of the Chubut River and waters of the cities of the region. The law orders the treatment of such liquids before being dumped.”
It also left a foul smell across the area as well as other harmful eco-system related problems. Trelew is a crucial fishing center in the area, and the proximity of the lagoon exemplifies the waste dumpage.
The incident has occurred before, and environmental activists blame the responsibility on the government and the fish companies.
Pablo Lada, an environmental activist, told AFP, “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.”
Effect on the residents
Locals from cities nearby complained of the foul stench days before the waterbody turned bubblegum pink. Residents from the neighborhood city of Rawson protested to detour dozens of transport trucks carrying fish waste to the treatment plants daily through their streets.
Lada said to the AFP, “the residents are getting tired of it.”
This resulted in factories dumping their waste in Corfo lagoon after provincial authorities sanctioned the authorization.
The environmental control chief for Chubut province, Juan Micheloud, told AFP, “The reddish color does not cause damage and will disappear in a few days”. Meanwhile, the Planning Secretary for the city of Trelew contradicts Micheloud’s statements and asserts by saying it is not possible to minimize something so serious.
The government officials’ contradictory statements left activists and locals confounded.
The fishing industry provides thousands of jobs to some 600,000 inhabitants of the Chubut province. Plants set in the area fundamentally deal in exporting prawns and hake. Environmental scientists and activists fear the future of the heavily polluted lagoon despite the job opportunities it yields to the residents.