Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Life source for agricultural economy or a regional rubbish dump?

25.01.2007
Dr Neil Ward of the University of Surrey, an internationally recognised expert in environmental pollution problems, recently carried out a chemical pollution evaluation of the Grande Canal, Rio Neuquén and Rio Negro (Alte Valle).

Dr Ward was inspired by the previous work of Arribére and co-workers from the Barriloche Nuclear Research Institute who in 2002 completed an assessment of the chemical contamination of canal sediment, aquatic weeds, lichens and fish liver and muscle samples collected from the length of the Canal Grande and other water bodies in the area. One of the main objectives of the 2002 study was to determine the contamination status of a closed down chlor-alkali plant, and the possible distribution of mercury into the canal.

Whilst there is local concern over the historical discharge of mercury and other chemicals into the Canal Grande at Cinco Saltos in Argentina, there are many modern-day practices that provide hot-spots of chemical pollution throughout the Rio Negro Valle. Many of these waste disposal practices are regulated by municipal authorities and others are illegal, relating to human habits where it is better to “pollute someone else’s garden”. In some cases this means local communities depositing their waste (human effluent and domestic waste) into the local canal or stream at the bottom of their garden. Unfortunately, when the river or canal floods they are exposed to their own waste. Moreover this is the environment in which their children play. It is basically a matter of education. The problem is not mercury but the chemical and physical waste (paper, plastic, tins, etc) that everyone is constantly dumping into the environment of the Rio Negro Valle today.

The University of Surrey study was planned around the fact that the upper Rió Negro Valley region, whose economy is based on agriculture – mainly fruit production, is artificially irrigated through a system of channels fed by a main canal, the Canal Grande. The canal, which is sourced from the Neuquén River, passes through numerous towns. Fruit production and the associated processing agri-industry (cold storage plants, fruit packaging, fruit juice, and wine and cider production) are the predominating commercial activities in the Alte Valle. This has lead to the settlement and expansion of the local towns with the founding of associated secondary industries, such as, ceramics production, chemical industry, paper and battery factories and a disused chlor-alkali plant located in Cinco Saltos. This disused plant is an important part of the study due to the potential release of mercury, as large quantities of mercury were used historically as a liquid cathode in the chlor-alkali process. Arribére and co-workers reported elevated levels of mercury in the sediment of the Grande Canal, with a maximum level of 5.4 mg/kg Hg compared with background levels below 0.05 mg/kg Hg. These levels reduced with increasing distance from the disused factory to levels similar to the non-contaminated levels.

Dr Ward has an international reputation for having been involved in investigating the impact of many major chemical incidents and major pollution problems, including the Chernobyl nuclear reactor incident, the Camelford water treatment works aluminium sulphate poisoning incident in Cornwall, England, and the impact of chemical works in Iceland, New Zealand, Greece, Scotland, Nigeria, Canada and Mexico. For the last 30 years he has been a major researcher in the field of chemical pollution from motorways and has been involved in many studies assessing the impact of metal contamination of roadside environments, especially storm water drainage systems and the accumulation of chemicals from motor vehicles in drainage pond and discharge stream sediments, aquatic plants and fish.

Dr Ward comments: “The University of Surrey project in the Alte Valle has provided an excellent opportunity to enable the local Rio Negro authorities to obtain chemical data using our internationally recognised expertise in the field of environmental and analytical chemistry research, such that they now have a more revealing picture of their local chemical pollution problems. Moreover, the study provided the opportunity for a postgraduate researcher at the University to carry out a project for his MSc where there were both challenges in analysing the samples for a range of chemical pollutants and in providing data for public evaluation. The Rio Negro newspaper released the report as an eight page supplement, the first time a scientific study has been published in this style. The supplement will be circulated to local schools to be used as an educational aid in addressing local ecological and chemical problems.”

Stuart Miller | alfa
Further information:
http://www.surrey.ac.uk
http://portal.surrey.ac.uk/portal/page?_pageid=799,1330697&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

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: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>