Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pulp mill devastates swans’ sanctuary in Chile

22.11.2005


Swam colonies before the environmental degradation at the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary. Valdivia, Chile in 2003. Credit: Austral University of Chile / E. Jaramillo, G. Contreras & L.Figueroa


A recently opened pulp mill in Chile has devastated one of South America’s most biologically outstanding wetlands, decimating its famed population of black-necked swans, along with most other bird life, a WWF-led team of investigators said Monday.

"What was probably the largest population of black necked swans in South America has been wiped out in less than a year. It is an environmental catastrophe," said Clifton Curtis, director of World Wildlife Fund’s Global Toxic Program. "Before the pulp mill, there were more than 5,000 black necked swans in the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary. When we visited the core of the sanctuary in August, we could find only four."

The Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary covers more than 12,000 acres of wetlands along the Cruces river in the southernmost Chilean province of Valdivia. An officially designated "wetland of international importance" under the Ramsar convention, it was home to more than 100 species of rare, vulnerable or, in at least two cases, endangered species of birds--the Coscoroba swan and the white-faced Ibis. It was also the largest nesting area in South America for the black necked swan, the region’s iconic species and a major tourist attraction.



"This was an area that was once teeming with water birds," added David Tecklin, WWF’s Valdivia ecoregion coordinator. "Now, within the space of just months, it has become an empty expanse of brown, polluted water. It is a water desert. Words really can’t describe the magnitude of the disaster here."

The investigators, who made two visits to the area, in August and October, affirmed earlier findings by the Austral University of Chile that pulp waste from the plant owned by CELCO, Chile’s largest timber conglomerate, is most likely responsible for the catastrophic collapse of the swan population.

The scientists concluded then that contaminants from the plant contributed to a massive die off of luchecillo, the aquatic vegetation that was the swans’ main food source.

"It was heart-rending. We talked to people in Valdivia who said they saw emaciated swans fall from the sky, landing on rooftops and cars," Curtis said. "They were so weak they were unable to carry their own weight."

Opened just upstream from the nature sanctuary in 2004, the CELCO plant was twice temporarily shut down earlier this year for environmental violations. Residents in Valdivia, 30 miles away, complained of noxious odors from the plant and the WWF mission found the facility’s waste treatment, storage and disposal safeguards to be appalling. "Filter ashes, which can contain dioxins, and other potentially toxic waste were simply being dumped together in an open air site, where the wind can disperse them," Tecklin said.

The mission team, which prepared a report containing 25 key findings and recommendations, is now urgently calling upon the Chilean government and CELCO to take immediate remedial measures to protect the sanctuary and develop a plan to end pollution from the mill. Further research is also urgently needed to determine the full impact of the pollution on both the environment and human health.

A growing citizen’s movement has kept case under the spotlight, as never before for an environmental issue in Chile. Although a series of lawsuits and other actions to force stronger action against the company have not so far succeeded, the case is now being heard by the Interamerican Court of Human Rights.

"The sanctuary has suffered so much damage that we won’t know, without more research, how long it may take to restore it. The first priority now should be strict measures to reduce pollution at the source. At the same time, urgent human health and socio-economic impacts must be addressed. Thousands of families living in this area are heavily dependent on tourism and on fishing along the coast, where CELCO now plans to discharge liquid waste," Tecklin added.

Michael Ross | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.worldwildlife.org/toxics/pubs.cfm

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Metallic nanoparticles will help to determine the percentage of volatile compounds

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Shallow soils promote savannas in South America

20.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>