Fetid foam from polluted river plagues Colombian city

Apr 27, 2022, 8:35 PM | Updated: Apr 28, 2022, 8:56 am

Clouds of toxic foam rising from the Balsillas River float over the Los Puentes neighborhood in Mos...

Clouds of toxic foam rising from the Balsillas River float over the Los Puentes neighborhood in Mosquera, Colombia, Wednesday, April 27, 2022. According to local authorities, the white toxic foam is caused in part by untreated sewage mixing with chemicals found in household detergents. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

MOSQUERA, Colombia (AP) — An immense layer of toxic foam has spilled and blown from a contaminated river into the Colombian city of Mosquera, often breaking into cloudlike chunks that drift with the wind along streets and into yards.

Environmental authorities blame discharges from an industrial zone as well as household detergents whip up the fetid foam in the city some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Bogota, the capital.

Gonzalo Roa, who has lived in the Los Puentes neighborhood for 40 years, blamed the contamination for causing respiratory problems in children.

“We’ve had many years of this situation,” he said.

The foam is usually created when a narrowing of the river or a bridge creates turbulence in the contaminated water, said Luis Alejandro Camacho Botero, an expert on environmental hydraulics at the University of the Andes.

He said similar problems exist along other rivers, including the Bogota River and warned they will bring public health problems if not controlled.

Edwin García, director of the environmental laboratory for the Cundinamarca region, said authorities are trying to monitor and reduce the problem and have installed a water treatment plant.

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Fetid foam from polluted river plagues Colombian city