Portman disaster continues to poison its inhabitants

English - May 5, 2016

yet despite being one of the biggest ecological disasters across Europe, the disappearance of the port of Portman bay is a little-known fact. But its effects today, still very present.

“Portus Magnus” and the Romans called one of the largest ports that existed in the south of the peninsula. But time has not been kind to the bahía Portman. Along the coast of Cartagena in Murcia, nothing remains of this ancient port. On the contrary, its waters seem to have magically disappeared behind a mountain of yellow dust and unhealthy. It is not an exaggeration. Where once there were up to twelve meters deep, now only the remains of land and leachates from the mines of the Union. The beach is a kilometer from where it was before the bay. Indeed, from the dock where huge merchant ships docked before, now you can walk to the edge of the beach. And the disappearance of this port was story of a death foretold: in less than two decades, the “Portus Magnus” ceased to be a port. But their influence does not go back to the past. Today, the shadow of the mines still poisons the earth.

Heavy metals and other poisons

Portman bay were a port, mostly fishing village. Many of its inhabitants lived, too, of mining from nearby mines of the Union. Without going into detail, mismanagement, aforethought crime and barely thirty years became a rustic and natural setting in a real dump of waste. A huge emissary (a giant tube) remains unloaded mining, sludge with sulfuric acid and heavy metals into the sea. Thousands of tons were dropped a day. Finally, Portman Bay silted and disappeared. But, in addition to destroying the livelihood of fishermen, the seabed and ocean dynamics, among other things, the disaster led to an even bigger and stronger problem: contamination by heavy metals and other substances is still present

When the port silted observed, the entire area is filled by sediments patent; not only for its color, red and ocher, but because there is virtually nothing grows on its surface. The amount of harmful residues to any living being is such that few species can bear. The environmental impact was so strong that this area is used by various entities as a field of study for bioremediation (recovery of contaminated areas by plants and microorganisms). Universities such as Murcia, that of Barcelona or the Complutense held on this earth endless experiments intended to determine how dangerous is their presence and how to fix it, not only for Portman Bay, but by other existing disaster in the world.

“hazardous to health”

a recent Complutense University study, however, has shown itself what seems obvious: the remains of Portman bay are dangerous to health. Of course, this work has achieved identify and quantify the remains of the bay, pointing concretely what the real danger that the inhabitants of the area and the wildlife that inhabits exposed. According to the study, Portman Bay is currently one of the most polluting points that exist on the peninsula. The presence of cadmium, lead and arsenic are well above the levels accepted as normal. Especially the latter is dangerous for their known carcinogenic effect.

heavy metals are very persistent agents and difficult to treat. In addition, they are lethal to living things. Very few species are able to assimilate and “get rid” of these “poisons” without damage. Including some plants and bacteria. But back to the polluting land, as indicated by the study, the problem stems largely from the rain. When it rains, the water carries pollutants from the salts, making them emerge again. Finally, these accumulations can be dragged to the sea or other water sources. As mentioned, the heavy metals are lethal, so their presence in the outcrops is a matter of extreme concern.

Heavy metals are very persistent and difficult to treat agents. In addition, they are lethal to living things. In the area more than 20,000 people. The analysis by the Complutense shows that daily exposure levels, especially in children, are much higher than they should be. Although a risk analysis, showing the potential danger, and not an analysis that shows a direct condition, researchers they have made clear to the authorities that should be immediate action to prevent a serious health problem. However, this is just one more complaint. For the voices that lead crying and screaming for the crime committed in the bay of Portman continue to reverberate for many years. And yet, despite the danger it posed today for its inhabitants, the bad example of management and administration, the incredible disaster occurred, the case is still unknown to many people, even the region itself. Have we learned anything from Portus Magnus?