Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lac de Gafsa, Tunisia

The lake appeared in the Tunisian desert like a mirage; one minute there was nothing but scorching sand, the next a large expanse of turquoise water. For locals, roasting in the 40C heat, the temptation to cool off in the inviting water quickly overcame any fears about the mysterious pool.

Hundreds flocked to what quickly became known as the Lac de Gafsa or Gafsa beach to splash, paddle, dive, and fling themselves from rocks into the lake, ignoring warnings that the water could be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, riddled with disease or possibly radioactive.
Gafsa became the centre of the country's mining industry after phosphate was discovered in the southern Tunisian region in 1886. Tunisia is now the world's fifth largest exporter of phosphate, which is used in industry.
Shepherds discovered the lake, thought to be up to 18 meters deep and covering one hectare, three weeks ago. Local geologists suspect seismic activity may have ruptured the rock above the water table sending the liquid to the surface.

"This region is overflowing with large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue so there is a real risk that the water is contaminated and carcinogenic.

The site is certainly stunning, but it has become infested with green algae, meaning the water is stagnant and conducive to diseases."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/01/mysterious-lake-tunisian-desert-turquoise-green-sludge