Tailings spill stirs Pilcomayo watershed concerns


Scene in the immediate aftermath of the Agua Dulce tailings-dam collapse. (Photo by Reyna Menacho)

Two months after a tailings dam collapsed in Potosí, Bolivian officials at various levels of government are warning that others are likely vulnerable and are leaking pollutants into the Pilcomayo River. Though local river waters are sampled periodically, the accident spurred two special testing efforts to gauge how the spill might have affected water quality in the Pilcomayo River and one of its main tributaries, the Tarapaya. One of these efforts is being conducted by the Trinational Commission for Development of the Pilcomayo River Basin, a body created by Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay to study ways to prevent sedimentation and other threats to the Pilcomayo. It has involved sampling for heavy metals and other pollutants at 23 sites in the Pilcomayo watershed, with results now being analyzed in Buenos Aires. Another testing push, being carried out by Potosí, Tarija and Chuquisaca departments, involved the gathering of 20 samples in each... [Log in to read more]

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