Teams of residents and fishermen have removed more than 100 tonnes of garbage from the Río Blanco in Veracruz in the municipalities of Ignacio de la Llave and Tlalixcoyan.
Authorities had previously estimated that about 60 tonnes of garbage were floating along a six-kilometer stretch of the river. But the amount of trash that had washed into the river turned out to be a lot more.
Veracruz environmental authorities traced the source of the garbage to eight illegal garbage dumps, mostly in the municipalities of Cuichapa and Omealca. There are at least 300 tonnes of garbage in the landfills, which have been closed by authorities.
According to Sergio Rodríguez, head of the state environmental protection agency, a large amount of garbage was left on a bank of the Río Blanco in a dump in Cuichapa. The garbage was then carried away by the river when the water level rose.
The trash has been contained in a lagoon to prevent it from reaching the main Alvarado lagoon system, which is home to the biggest population of manatees in Veracruz.
Fernando García, a fisherman who works in the lagoon system, told Televisa that the situation is threatening his source of livelihood.
“The river flows into the sea, and that’s bad because there’s a lot of pollution,” he said. “If it gets to us, at the mouth of the river, that will make it hard for us to work.”
The garbage that was removed from the river is being taken to a landfill in the municipality of Medellín.