A lagoon in the Patagonia region of Argentina has turned bright pink, stoking longtime concerns of local residents.
According to a report from the Agence France-Presse, environmental engineer and virologist Federico Restrepo said that the color was due to the presence of sodium sulfate, which local fish factories use for preserving prawns for export. The law requires that factories treat the fish waste containing sodium sulfate, which is an antibacterial chemical, before dumping it.
The lagoon has been this color for almost a week now, but locals have been complaining about its foul odor for some time, AFP reported.
Residents of the neighboring town Rawson recently blocked the roads in protest so trucks carrying processed fish waste couldn’t get through to the treatment plants located in the city’s outskirts. The factories were instead authorized to dump their waste in the lagoon.
"We get dozens of trucks daily. The residents are getting tired of it," local environmental activist Pablo Lada told AFP. "Those who should be in control are the ones who authorize the poisoning of people.”
According to the news agency, the lake is not used recreationally and this is not the first time the lake has turned pink.
"The reddish color does not cause damage and will disappear in a few days," environmental control chief Juan Micheloud told AFP.
Lada told the news agency that the fish factory also has the option of dumping their waste in the treatment plant in Puerto Madryn, around 35 miles away, or even building a new one closer to their factories. Dumping the fish waste in the local lagoon was just the easiest option.
Activists are concerned about how this could affect other water sources since this lagoon feeds into the Chubut river and several other water sources. Other foreign fishing companies and fish processing plants also depend on these water sources.
The lagoon was still bright pink as of Sunday.