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A large mound of foam in the Puebla irrigation canal. A large mound of foam in the Puebla irrigation canal.

Large amounts of possibly toxic foam form in Puebla irrigation canal

The canal delivers irrigation water to 1,000 hectares of farms in southern Puebla

Huge quantities of foam suspected to be toxic formed earlier this week in an irrigation canal of the Valsequillo dam in Puebla.

According to the environmentalist organization Dale la Cara al Atoyac, the foam began to form on July 21 near the Valsequillo dam, which is fed by water from the Atoyac river.

“Today, the problem is more than visible,” the organization wrote Monday on its Facebook page. “We demand that responsibility be taken for the critical situation of the environment, especially the Atoyac river.”

According to the newspaper Excélsior, the foam in the canal, located in the southern part of the municipality of Puebla, was created by a mixture of pollutants that are dumped into it, including heavy metals like lead and cadmium, along with solvents, paints and engine oil.

The canal also receives household organic waste, the decomposition of which releases gases that, when mixed with the other pollutants, lead to the creation of the foam.

Foam overflows the canal's banks.
Foam overflows the canal’s banks.

The canal provides irrigation for around 1,000 hectares of farms in 17 Puebla municipalities, including Tecamachalco, Quecholac, Acatzingo and Palmar de Bravo. The foam has reached fields in Tecamachalco, but it is not known whether there are any adverse health effects for humans from consuming food grown with the contaminated water.

There was a tragic effect on Sunday when a man attempted to take a selfie of the foam-filled canal. The 32-year-old fell into the water and drowned after he was dragged away by the current.

A woman who was with the victim reported the accident to Civil Protection officials, but a search was delayed by foam extending for more than a kilometer in the canal.

On Friday morning, the body was found in the Valsequillo drainage canal in Tecamachalco.

Source: Excélsior (sp), Televisa (sp)

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