Los Angeles Times | 1/6/2011 12:00:00 AM
High mercury levels in Colombia port raise concern
January 6--A study has found up to three times the recommended level of mercury in Buenaventura Bay, a possible byproduct of illegal mining. Gold mining, which has increased as gold prices have soared, has exacted a heavy toll.
The study of five fish species by National University of Colombia scientists Guillermo Duque and his wife, Pilar Cogua, both based at the university's Palmira campus, found as much as three times the recommended level of mercury in Buenaventura Bay, where the Dagua River empties into the Pacific Ocean.
Until the government stepped in last summer to stop an illegal gold rush, the Dagua River for two years was the scene of feverish hydraulic mining that ravaged the waterway and caused increased silting of Buenaventura's bay, which the government is trying to develop as a major harbor to foster trade links to Asia.
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