In Finisterre, Coahuila, the world does not end but life does. Arsenic contaminates its water

Matilde Suárez Rivera, the health assistant of Finisterre, one of the towns of Francisco I, Madero, Coahuila, famous for its water with high concentrations of arsenic, arrived here 37 years ago, when people drank water, or rather arsenic, of an old Ferris wheel that is at the exit of the community. Mati pulls her blouse up her back and shows some brownish patches as continents that extend along her spine. The unequivocal and fatal sign of cancer.

Stories like these abound in all corners of the Comarca Lagunera without the authorities of the different levels of government doing something to solve, efficiently, the problem of hidroarsenicismo in this region, caused by overexploitation of aquifers.

While counting the dead, Doña Mati walks slowly through the dusty and suffocating streets of Finisterre, a town in the Francisco I. Madero municipality, in Coahuila.

Those ruins, he says, and point to an adobe hut in the center of the town, were the home of a lady who has already passed away.

His legs were amputated, as a result of hydroarsenicism , because arsenic is like a thermite that lodges in the extremities.

Her name was Gabina García.

In the green house lived a marriage: Mr. Telésforo López and his wife, Mrs. Julia Rodríguez Nery.

In oblivion, the filters in these conditions are a monument to human stupidity, said the specialists. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

A year or a year and a half ago, they died.

They had spots on the skin.

Also Mrs. María Sandoval Casillas, the one who lived there, by the galleys. She had a biopsy because the spots already oozed out and smelled foul odors. I suffered from cancer. He died. And in the house, the one that is in the pantheon, the one that is already falling, lived Don J, Manuel Donato Mejía.

That old man who had the whole body full of brown and black spots, one over the other. Already died.

“He used to say to me, ‘Oh girl, you come to see me every day, but there’s going to be a day when you’re not going to find me’, and unfortunately that’s how it was. God our Lord put his hand down and took him to his side, “says Dona Mati, not to mention that the skin cancer that Don Manuel suffered from drinking water contaminated with arsenic for years, killed him.

And although the authorities claim that hydroarsenicism in Finisterre, as in the rest of the Lagunera Region, is no longer so much, Doña Mati does not believe it.

A few years ago she also began to sprout some brown stains on her back.

The doctor told him that it could be because of the water they consumed in Finisterre.

Based on a report issued by the State Water and Sanitation Commission, in the Laguna de Coahuila, 29 water treatment plants were installed for the removal of arsenic at the foot of the well, with an investment of 267 million 976 thousand 074 pesos. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

Matilde Suárez Rivera, Finisterre’s health assistant -the place where the land or the munco ends-, famous for its water with high concentrations of arsenic , arrived here 37 years ago, when people drank water, or rather arsenic , from an old ferris wheel that is at the exit of the community.

Mati tells it on the plot of her house in Finisterre, she wears her blouse up her back and shows some brownish patches as continents that extend along her spine.

The unequivocal and fatal sign of cancer .

Also to Don Eusebio López Bernal, the old man who lives next to Dona Mati’s house, stains have already left on his back; and to Don Martín López, Rosy’s husband, the one who lives in the house that passes the highway.

“I say that this is and should be the priority of the Government of the State, of the Federal Government, of the Municipal Government, of paying attention to health issues,” says Mrs. Mati.

Stories like these abound in all corners of the Comarca Lagunera, without the authorities of the different levels of government do something to solve, efficiently, the problem of hidroarsenicismo in this region, caused by overexploitation of aquifers.

An example of this are the so-called water treatment plants for the removal of arsenic at the foot of the well, also called antiarsenic filters, which were endorsed by the Mexican Institute of Water Technology (IMTA), installed at the request of the Conagua and delivered to the municipal water in the urban and rural area of ​​Torreón, Madero, Matamoros and Viesca, Coahuila at the beginning of this decade, and some of which are not functioning and in total abandonment.

It is in each drop where the poison is present. This is how the inhabitants of Torreón live and live. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

Based on a report issued by the State Water and Sanitation Commission, in the Laguna de Coahuila, 29 water treatment plants were installed for the removal of arsenic at the foot of the well, with an investment of 267 million 976 thousand 074 pesos.

In a visit made by SEMANARIO to 12 of the 29 plants that cost the treasury between 5 and 12 million pesos, it was possible to confirm the oblivion and, in some cases, the deterioration that these works present.

Juan Carlos Parga Torres, president of the Citizen Committee for the Quality and Quantity of Water in the Lagoon, described this as “a great fraud against the health of the inhabitants of the Lagunera Region.”

It is the case of the plant located in the well 79 that is located in the Fractionation Lagos, of Torreón.

These metallic filters look completely oxidized, turned into scrap, in old iron. They are like cylinders similar to space rockets, which should be connected by pipe to the well that supplies this colony to clean the arsenic water.

According to data obtained through the request of information 00517219 made to the State Commission of Water and Sanitation (Ceas), in this filter for the elimination of arsenic, whose executing organ was the Conagua and that according to the inventory of the Ceas is already finished , 8 million 16 thousand 895 pesos were disbursed.

ALERT: What do the latest studies say?

Since 1958, there has been a history of cancer of the bladder, lung, liver, colon, as a consequence of hydroarsenicism in the Laguna. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

MORTAL RISK

The Juarez University of the State of Durango revealed with a study how arsenic causes oxidation of DNA cells

DRINKING WATER WITH ARSENIC

It causes infertility, developmental deficiencies, neurological disorders, asthma and chronic lung problems

OTHER CONSEQUENCES

It favors the appearance of obesity or increases the risk of being obese and of being diabetic, because it alters the metabolism

Here it should be noted that the Lagos Fractionation is located in an area of ​​Torreón where arsenic concentrations have reached for years the 0.045 or 0.050 micrograms of arsenic per liter, the highest in the entire city, exceeding almost double the 0.025 micrograms per liter established by the Official Mexican Standard NOM-250-SSA1-2014.

Interviewed on this matter Mauro González Montoya, technical manager of SIMAS Rural, organ of the State Government responsible for the operation of this and other plants in towns of Torreón, Matamoros and Viesca, said that in its jurisdiction there are two other cases of filters whose works have remained unfinished and the abandoned works: one in the Ejido Ana and another in the community of Venustiano Carranza, municipality of Viesca.

In the seventies and eighties there was the incidence of skin cancer and black foot, with amputations, and it was concluded that it was due to arsenic. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

“We have here some filters that left us started and they did not come back. One in the Ejido Ana well, the Lagos well and another in Viesca, those three. That they were going to install the filters and no, they left them started nothing more. For example, in the Ejido Ana, the excavations began, they took material, rods and everything to start with the plates, the rude and already, up there. In the well Lagos put some tanks, made a booth and it was everything. In Viesca they started digging, but nothing more. “

When did you start these works?

At the beginning of 2018, suddenly no one came back, we did not see anybody … I warned the CNA and they said they were going to see what had happened with the contractors, but nothing.

One of the plants that remain as a white elephant in the middle of nowhere, is located at the exit of Francisco I. Madero, Coahuila, right on the edge of the road that goes to San Pedro de las Colonias, in the well called Caballo Blanco, whose investment, according to official figures, was 6 million 605 thousand 965 pesos.

This filter is not connected to the network and in its facilities, guarded with cyclonic mesh, there are no watchers or people operating the named system of direct filtration with ferric chloride.

SEMANARIO looked for Abel Ramírez, the general manager of SIMAS Madero, to give his version on the state of affairs held by the five water treatment plants for arsenic removal that were installed in this municipality with authorization from Conagua and whose value exceeds 45 millions of pesos:

We are not using arsenic filters. Since we arrived the installation has been poorly made … Apart from the excessive consumption of electricity …

Why?

When using the filters we use other motors, which will cause us more electricity consumption.

Trihalomethane, says Morano Rodríguez, is a carcinogen that is a thousand times more dangerous than arsenic. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

And with what are you removing Madero’s arsenic then?

We chlorinated the water …

The same happens with the plants established in wells 3 and 4 of Matamoros, Coahuila, which more than a year after being built are inconclusive and not working.

Although, historically, the water analysis of these wells, carried out by SIMAS itself, has yielded arsenic concentrations of up to 0.050 micrograms per liter, an amount twice as much as permitted by the standard; in this project the filters placed in wells 3 and 4, located in the urban area of ​​Matamoros, resources were spent in the order of 8 million 130 thousand 482 pesos and 11 million 367 thousand 557 pesos, respectively.

“They never came to take the picture and they did not come back, they just left,” said a local resident during the visit of SEMANARIO to well 4.

Neither in these plants were people working in the operation of the filters observed, but yes, in the case of well 4, two workers drinking beer accompanied by a woman.

Rogelio Ayup, the general manager of SIMAS Matamoros, clarified that both plants, whose construction dates back around eight months, are already 90 percent complete.

However, he said he did not know the exact date on which the works will be delivered by the Conagua to this operator.

SIMAS employees, who at the time of the WEEKLY view were inside the plants said that the filters are not operating, they said ignore the cause. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

“They are not in function yet and as it carries the filters, it is fenced off from the area, some batteries, so it is a laborious job. Those jobs were made by the CNA and then they send the company, the company starts to build them, I do not have a delivery date. We want to suppose that in a month, two months the filters can be working properly and I believe that in this year we get rid of arsenic. “

In relation to the wells that supply water to the Senderos and Zacatecas de Torreón colonies, it was found that the plants for arsenic removal are inactive.

SIMAS employees, who at the time of the WEEKLY view were inside the plants said that the filters are not operating, they said ignore the cause.

Dulce Pereda, Sindica of the municipality of Torreón, stated that this situation is mainly due to the lack of maintenance of the antiarsenic filters by the operating agencies, in this case the SIMAS Torreón.

“If they do not give proper maintenance to the pump, much less are they giving the arsenic filters. And by not maintaining these filters obviously you are not preventing arsenic, “he said.

It is noteworthy that the sector Trails has been characterized by being one of the areas of Torreón whose waters have reached levels of contamination of 0.045 and 0.050 micrograms of arsenic per liter, 100 percent more than allowed.

During the visits made by SEMANARIO , during several visits to the municipalities of the Coahuila Lagoon, carried out over a period of two months, it was observed that in the case of colonies such as Compressor, Lucio Blanco and Ejido Paso del Águila, settled in the urban and rural area of ​​Torreón, filters are stopped and locked inside the premises of SIMAS where the wells are located.

For his part, Antonio Nerio Maltos, general director of the State Water and Sanitation Commission of Coahuila, acknowledged that not all the filters for the removal of arsenic installed in the Coahuila Lagoon are operating. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

It happens the same with the well 32 – R, located by the Plaza Jumbo, in front of the Industrial Park East, and in which 11 million 622 thousand 386 pesos were spent.

A neighbor of the sector reported that more than a year ago in this well there is no night stand.

Questioned about the case of the plant installed in the Ejido Paso del Águila, Mauro González Montoya, technical manager of SIMAS Rural, said that the shutdowns of this filter, which has been operating for around two years, are due to the constant thefts that it is object, with everything and that there is vigilant.

“It is that the other time we stole almost everything there and then you see that it is electronic, we struggle a lot to repair it again”.

And he clarified that in winter time the well is usually stopped, “because we have to spare. The heat is reached and we start working it. Maybe the well was stopped when you were, “he explained.

Does it say that the well is little expense?

In Paso del Águila they are wells that give little expense. The filters must be located in a well where … And the filters are a very strong investment. You have to do a well done, complete study, to make it affordable to put filters. Maybe we thought to make a replacement of that well … We do the replacement and the filters?

SEMANARIO looked for more than a month to Óscar Gutiérrez Santana, the general director of the Central Basins of the North, to talk about the current conditions of the filters.

These metallic filters look completely oxidized, turned into scrap, in old iron. They are like cylinders similar to space rockets, which should be connected by pipe to the well that supplies this colony to clean the arsenic water. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

“The engineer’s agenda is quite loaded. As soon as I have an education, I will contact you, “said Guadalupe Saldívar, the spokesperson of this organization, in the last communication held on June 11.

When do you foresee that you will be able to assist us?

I could not tell. It is information that the directors do not bring up their sleeve.

SEMANARIO also looked for almost a month to Juan José Gómez, the general manager of SIMAS Torreón, to give his version about the problems facing the project of anti-arsenic filters in Torreón.

Until the closing of this edition had not been reported.

For his part, Antonio Nerio Maltos, general director of the State Water and Sanitation Commission of Coahuila, acknowledged that not all the filters for the removal of arsenic installed in the Coahuila Lagoon are operating.

“There are some that probably require maintenance, there are some that, perhaps due to operating costs, stopped working and SIMAS decided to work only with other wells that did not have arsenic problems.”

How much does the operation of the filters represent in money?

I do not have the exact data, but we know that it is expensive because we have a lot of relationship with the operating systems and, in itself, the expenditure on electric power already reaches almost 90 percent of its budget in some cases, with these plants increasing even more. It is what we hear from them and it is where we seek to collaborate directly with the Federal Electricity Commission, but also with some investment schemes in solar panels … “.

Also to Don Eusebio López Bernal, the old man who lives next to Dona Mati’s house, stains have already left on his back; and to Don Martín López, Rosy’s husband, the one who lives in the house that passes the highway. Photos: Marco Medina and Jesús Peña, Vanguardia

Nerio Maltos stressed that this technology, endorsed by the Mexican Institute of Water Technology, has been effective in removing arsenic from the wells where it is installed.

“Yes, where the filters are working, the water meets acceptable parameters.”

Fernando Ulises Adame de León, doctor in molecular biology, with 30 years of experience in the arsenic issue, warned that if adequate actions are not taken to solve the problem of hidroarsenicismo in the Comarca Lagunera, not only will the damages caused by the consumption continue of arsenic, such as the high incidence of cancer that exists in the region, but that are going to trigger problems of cadmium, fluorine and boron in water.

“There are already many problems of bone deformation, allergies, cancer,” he said.

Although the Ministry of Health does not have statistics on diseases and deaths caused by hydroarsenicism in the Laguna de Coahuila.

“There are many deaths that occur in the communities, in the ejidos where he only died and was buried. There is little, very little information about it. “

However, Adame de León explained that La Laguna is a world reference for the presence of cancer, associated with the consumption of heavy metals.

“Get in to the Google search engine and ask about the topics associated with arsenic, with cadmium, with fluoride and the Comarca Lagunera will appear as a reference. Worldwide, the Comarca Lagunera is a focus where these problems occur. We are not the only area, but neither is it a pride, “he said.

And he declared that the water treatment plants for the removal of arsenic at the foot of the well will soon be insufficient because the water in the aquifer is no longer so abundant.

“The wells have to be replaced constantly because they fall, why do you want a filter in a well that does not have water?”.

Jorge Antonio Espinoza Femmat, medical surgeon, Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine and master researcher at the Juarez University of the State of Durango, said that today more than ever, a joint effort is required between the political forces, the academic forces and the population in general. solve the problem of arsenic in the lagoon.

“As much as we discover the black thread and know what is the problem of arsenic, if there is no joint effort there will be no solution.”

Jesús Burciaga, general practitioner, a student of arsenic since the 1970s, lamented that despite the fact that too much has already been said about the effects of this metalloid’s consumption on human health, nothing has been done.

“There is a history in the Laguna since 1958, of the health consequences of exposure to arsenic, lead, cadmium and the problem is that nothing happens.”

Meanwhile, the spots on Dona Mati’s back, the health assistant from the village of Finisterre, continue to grow and grow, until one day, like her neighbors, in the town they never see her again …

“A great fraud against the health of the inhabitants of the Lagunera Region (The abandonment of the treatment plants)”.

Juan Carlos Parga Torres, president of the Citizen Committee for the Quality and Quantity of Water in the Lagoon

“If they do not give proper maintenance to the pump, much less are they giving the arsenic filters. And by not maintaining these filters obviously you’re not preventing arsenic. “

Dulce Pereda, Syndic of the municipality of Torreón

100 percent more than arsenic allowed are contamination levels of 0.045 and 0.050 micrograms of arsenic per liter

29 purification plants for arsenic removal at the foot of the well, with an investment of 267 million 976 thousand 074 pesos.

12 of 29 plants that cost the public treasury between 5 and 12 million pesos, are in oblivion and deterioration

THE HISTORY

Since 1958, there have been a history of cancer of the bladder, lung, liver and colon in the Laguna as a result of hodroarsenicism.

In the seventies and eighties there was the incidence of skin cancer and black foot, with amputations, and it was concluded that it was due to arsenic.

About the direct filtration method with ferric chloride and sodium hypochlorite, recommended by IMTA and used in water treatment plants for the removal of arsenic at the foot of the well installed in the Lagunera Region, Jesús Guadalupe Moreno Rodríguez, expert on the subject of water , warned that this technology is harmful to human health.

“I can show you that this technology is an occurrence. Sodium hypochlorite is active chlorine, very oxidizing. it oxidizes chlorine and that chlorine that goes there, when people consume it and it meets its stomach with organic matter, it becomes triahalomethane. “

Trihalomethane, says Morano Rodríguez, is a carcinogen that is a thousand times more dangerous than arsenic.

“What do we do with the water we use for the shower? That water that came out of the filters, those of ferric chloride, is rich in halogens, it reaches the drainage and bumps into the organic matter and there it becomes trihalomethane.”

Trihalomethane, he explains, is volatile and exits through the sewers. There is a carcinogen in the environment. “These machines are going to remain as a monument to corruption, ignorance and human stupidity,” he says and recalls that electrocoagulation, a method based on the use of electric current, is the cheapest alternative and also has no rejection water. , because it does not use chemical reagents.

Alejandra Martín Domínguez, water technologist attached to IMTA, stated that the systems at the bottom of the well that have direct filtration technology are endorsed by PAHO and WHO. She added that this method is the most economical, the easiest method to operate and the one that allowed to remove the arsenic.

Questioned on whether the direct filtration method is harmful to health, Martín Domínguez stressed: “It is not true. Iron is not even a contaminant that is considered within the norms for health damages. Chlorides … Do not you take sodium chloride called salt? ” Apart, Alejandra Martín explained, the amount added is so small that it does not even count chlorides out of the norm. And the iron stays in the mud, it rushes.

Source: semanario, vanguardia, sinembargo

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