Ríos a punto de extinción

115
El mercurio usado en la minería está acabando con las fuentes de agua.

Según estudios, el uso del mercurio en la explotación minera es uno de los principales factores que afectan el medio ambiente y acrecientan la sequía de las fuentes de agua

Carolina Tejada Sánchez
@carolltejada 

Colombia continua en la mira de los países en los que los ríos y principales fuentes del recurso hídrico, se hallan amenazados a causa de la contaminación. Según informes que se han venido presentando desde hace varios meses, los ríos del país, en un 80%, estarían contaminados con mercurio. Según revelan los informes de la Fiscalía y de las entidades ambientales, la minería ilegal sería uno de los principales responsables.

Según los cálculos, unas 200 toneladas anuales de mercurio son vertidas a los ríos y suelos en los diferentes territorios del país. Los departamentos con mayor nivel de contaminación a causa de este tóxico, son los de Antioquia, Nariño, Cauca, Bolívar y Chocó.

Pero el mercurio no es el único tóxico que viene afectando las fuentes de agua. Los sectores industriales desde muchos años atrás han sido señalados como responsables de verter componentes que afectan la calidad de las aguas y por ende, abren camino a que las vertientes de los ríos desaparezcan. Según informes, desde 1994 varios estudios señalaban que las industrias ubicadas en el país, estaban concentradas cerca a mares o ríos, vertiendo sus sustancias tóxicas a sus cauces. Según un artículo publicado en el libro Contaminación industrial en Colombia, el costo de recuperación de una de las ciénagas contaminadas ascendía en 1994 a 8.600 millones de pesos.

La industria manufacturera como la agroindustria, señala el informe, “vierten a las aguas residuos con altas concentraciones de plomo, cadmio, mercurio o cromo, que generan efectos irreversibles en la calidad de las aguas superficiales y subterráneas del país. A ello se le suma la contaminación por materias orgánicas, sólidos suspendidos y otras sustancias”. Lo cual ha hecho mella en todo el territorio, afectando las principales fuentes de agua.

El primer río en desaparecer

Para el 2016, un nuevo informe nacional reporta, la desaparición del río Sambingo, ubicado en el departamento del Cauca, al suroeste de Colombia. Según se evidencia, el vertimiento de mercurio y cianuro, así como el Fenómeno del Niño serían en parte responsables. El ejército con mapas evidenció la sequía de este, uno de los ríos más caudalosos e importantes de la región. Este río hacía parte de la cuenca hidrológica más importante del Pacífico caucano, para llegar al océano, recorría casi 150 kilómetros de montañas, cañones y bosque tropical.

Diez de los ríos más contaminados

En un informe alarmante de la Fiscalía, se presentan los diez ríos con mayor afectación ambiental a causa del uso de mercurio y la remoción del lecho fluvial para la explotación de minerales. Entre estos ríos se encuentran el Vichada en el Meta, Acandí y Quito en el Chocó, Caquetá en Caquetá, el Yarí en el Amazonas, Arroyohondo en el Valle del Cauca, Simití en Santander, Barbacoas en Nariño, Suesca en Cundinamarca y Puerto Berrío en el Magdalena. Además, en el río Nechí en Antioquia, existe una alta intoxicación por mercurio que causa daños neurológicos, ceguera, malformación fetal, parálisis y muerte por consumo de pescado contaminado.

En el caso de la contaminación y la destrucción del ecosistema en las principales cuencas de los ríos, como el Quito y el Atrato, se descubrió que existe una organización denominada los Zares del Oro, quienes se valen del uso del mercurio, de maquinaria pesada y permisos ambientales para obtener oro y platino. En esta investigación que lleva la Fiscalía se descubrió que la empresa Metalpac, es responsable de obtener el mineral y transportarlo a Istmina en Chocó y posteriormente a Medellín en donde se comercializa a nivel internacional con Meprecol y Anexpo, para su exportación y comercialización. También se evidenció que las transacciones que se alcanzaron a realizar superan los $1,2 billones entre 2009 y 2013.

Algunos efectos sobre la salud y el medio ambiente

En las ultimas épocas cuando la explotación minera ha cogido camino en el país debido, entre otras cosas a la falta de oportunidades de empleo en las regiones y de salidas desde el establecimiento que indiquen la sustitución de la minería por alternativas económicas, además de la entrega de licencias ambientales para tal fin, es cuando más se ha acelerado el proceso de contaminación, tanto en las afluentes de agua como en el conjunto de la naturaleza y su población.

La preocupación por el uso del mercurio pasa entre otras cosas por las afectaciones al organismo de quienes mantienen contacto con él. El mercurio también puede afectar la reproducción de los animales, además de los riñones. En los seres humanos este tóxico puede producir neumonitis química, edema agudo de pulmón, insuficiencia respiratoria y muerte, hipertensión arterial, taquicardia e insuficiencia cardíaca.

En cuanto a los efectos en la contaminación ambiental a causa del uso de mercurio, los mayores efectos se producen a nivel acuático, debido a que el metilmercurio, toxina muy potente que asimila el pescado. Según informes de la salud, esta toxina se acumula con el tiempo en la vida acuática en concentraciones y niveles más elevados. Y en la superficie terrestre, estas toxinas son degradadas por microorganismos. Estos niveles de contaminación son una cadena de afectación a todos los seres humanos, pero además es uno de los elementos que en la última etapa se ha configurado como de los principales responsables de la contaminación de los ríos, de la muerte de miles de peces, de la enfermedad de cientos de hombres y mujeres que trabajan en estos espacios de explotación, y también de la desaparición de las fuentes de agua.

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