Case Study: Guadiamar River Essay

On April 25, 1998 At the Los Frailes Mine, owned by the Swedish/Canadian Company Boliden, The dam burst which was holding back the toxic mining waste. Boliden claim that this was due to Seismic shift but other people said that local authorities have received warnings that the Dam was unstable and likely to break.

The Wave contained approximately 5 cubic metres of Toxic sludge including the poisonous lead, arsenic, zinc and mercury. The sludge flowed into the Guadiamar River, the marshlands and the Intramurals.The toxins destroyed all life in the stretch of the river.

The river of Sludge was finally stopped at the entrance to Do�ana National Park, thanks to the hasty construction of an emergency Dam. There were then huge delays due to the inefficiency of the public administrations board and a lack of a driving political force. The cleaning up project finally started at the beginning of the year 2000.

The job was a massive 6000 contaminated hectares. The waste has been replaced at the mine with permission from the Geomining institute of Spain. The project has come under scrutiny from the WWF for using methods which it did not approve of and it has recorded mutations of certain animals in The Do�ana National Park. Many Wildlife organizations want the mine shut down permanently.

There were also a lot of effects; I have divided them into short term effects and long term effects underneath.Short Term Effects1. 400 acres of Farmland was destroyed by toxic sludge resulting in �6 million pounds worth of damage.2. The Guadiamar River was almost completely blackened with sludge.3.

A Great amount of the animals in the river were killed, having knock-on effects throughout the food chain.4. 400 families had their water supply polluted.5. Homes by the river were flooded.6.

People living within the effected area suffered itching, rashes and difficulty in breathing.7. Do�ana National Park was in danger from pollution.Long-term Effects1.

The people lost trust in the authorities for their slow reaction to the disaster2. If the topsoil is not removed before the autumn rains come they will carry the pollution into the Park.3. The Boliden Company got off without any fines, with their insurers just paying for restoration.4.

While repairing the dam more waste was pumped into the river.5. The Pollution affecting the health of the animals in Do�ana.6. Some pollution evaded the barriers and got into the sea.

7. The Wetlands of the Park face drought as the Guadiamar is no longer an adequate water supply.8. Much of the Fish and vegetables in the area are now unsellable.9.

The local tradition of crossing the Guadiamar River was disrupted.I have a diagram which is from the University of Wales Aberystwyth which shows how the incidents happened exactly.1. A slab of soil beneath the dam slid approximately one metre towards Rio Agrio. The front of the slide is about 20 metres wide, and it is located in the area of the junction of the two impoundments.2. The dam cracked and broke3.

Between five and seven million cubic metres of contaminated slurry spilled through the gap.4. This caused the bed of Rio Agrio to locally rise three metres.They also gave some information about the element concentration in the soil.Element/Concentration of the pyrite sludge: grams/tonesZn 8,000 | Pb 8,000 | As 5,000 | Cu 2,000 | Co 90 | Tl 55 | Bi 70 | Cd 28 | Hg 15 |High pyrite purity 68-78%Very fine granulometry, 50% of the particles are smaller than 8 Microns and particles smaller than 10 microns can be inhaled.All these tell us how serious the problem is in the River Guadiamar, Spain.


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