Lake Maracaibo, which once was at the heart of Venezuela’s oil boom, has turned into a polluted wasteland, according to environmentalists.
A pig, coated with a thick greenish film that grows on the lake, sniffs the ground while foraging near the shore of Lake Maracaibo, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Thursday, August 10, 2023.
A cat walks over waste lining the shore of Lake Maracaibo in the Santa Rosa de Agua neighborhood of Maracaibo. The lake is located about 600 kilometers (372 miles) west of the capital, Caracas.
The pollution of the lake is the result of decades of excessive oil exploitation, poor maintenance of the obsolete infrastructure and a lack of waste treatment plants in the area.
Oil and trash litter the shore of Lake Maracaibo the municipality of San Francisco. Tens of thousands of kilometers of pipes lie at its bottom, where crude oil leaks and system failures are frequent.
Oil waste stains the waters of Lake Maracaibo in San Francisco, Venezuela. Fertilizers, sewage and other chemicals are discharged into the lake causing high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus.
The lake, which collects rainwater from more than a hundred tributaries, has also become the wastewater deposit for the western states of Zulia, Mérida and Trujillo, where 5.3 million people live.
The fishes no longer come near the shores of the lake because the microalgae “drowns them,” AP quoted José Aular, a 61-year-old fisherman who says he got a skin rash because of the contamination.
The pollution of Lake Maracaibo is decades old, but now it’s being felt on its coast with its bad smells, oil spills and microalgae.