Bolivian city famous for its carnival announces emergency action to clean up a major environmental disaster on lake that has become a ‘sea of plastic’

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The city of Oruro, a major mining and tourist center with a World Heritage carnival celebration, is responding to videos showing Lake Uru Uru chock-full of plastic waste, which has resulted from urban dwellers dumping their trash into drainage canals.

Mayor David Choque announced a major clean-up of the lake on April 8–9 with the participation of a recycling firm, and asked the country’s environmental ministry to participate by providing logistics assistance.

The situation of the lake caused alarm when the environmental devastation on some 25 acres of the lake’s edge showed it mostly solid with plastic containers and the lake as a whole covered with garbage and mining residue contamination that includes arsenic and heavy metals.

By Milan Sime Martinic

PFOA Chemicals in Water

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A study has now shown that residents of the Mid-Ohio River Valley had higher than normal levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), based on blood samples collected over a 22-year span (1991-2013).

The exposure source was likely drinking water contaminated by industrial discharges upriver.

The researchers identified three known industrial sources who discharge PFOA into the Ohio River: DuPont’s Fort Washington Works and on-site landfill, Dry Run Landfill in Washington, WV, and Letart Landfill in Letart, WV.

The issue is increasingly common. It has been reported that every person now has around 4 or 5 parts per billion in their blood, which is around 10x the EPA provisional limit.

And, while PFOA is being phased out, it’s only one chemical in a large class of fluorine-derived substances called fluoropolymers (PFAs), so all the industry has to do is simply switch to different ones that aren’t registered by the EPA, and have not been studied to the same extent.

The recourse taken by those affected tends to be lawsuits. A lawyer recently made headlines for suing DuPont for PFOA after a farmer called him to complain his cattle were getting sick and dying left and right and a soapy froth of chemical buildup in his creek.