Ocean life off the shore of a major industrial center in Chile’s central coast is rife with high concentrations of heavy metals, including copper, arsenic and cadmium, a recent study shows.
Washington-based Oceana, an ocean-protection organization, said the pollution is stemming from the Ventanas industrial complex in the town of Puchuncavi.
“The study’s results don’t surprise us, but they are still very serious,” said Alex Muñoz, the organization’s executive director. “These levels of pollution cannot be tolerated in a populated area with a marine ecosystem that has been productive and a major source of jobs before these industries were brought in.”
“The government cannot continue to be indifferent and we hope that they create a clean-up plan for this area as soon as possible,” he added.
The study was conducted on March 28 in four points in Ventanas, with samples of sea life including shellfish and crustaceans. It found that each animal sampled was contaminated with arsenic, cadmium and copper. In the El Tebo Beach area, the samples had five times the amount of copper and four times the amount of arsenic permitted by the Chilean government.
The area is home to two major thermoelectric plants —Campiche and Energia Minera— and a state-owned copper company Codelco smelter.