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Polluted King River causes deforestation, Tasmania

Polluted King River causes deforestation, Tasmania

E820/0166

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Credit

SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

River pollution. Deforestation caused by polluted sediment and water of the King River in Tasmania, arguably the most polluted river in Australia. Temperate rainforest trees coming into contact with the water die, leaving barren trunks of wood. The pollution is due to acid drainage from old mines, notably copper mines. Acid drainage must be reduced by more than 95% for life to return to the river. Some 9.4 million tonnes of mine waste is estimated to be deposited in the King River; river bottom sediments are mostly coarse smelter slag, while bank sediments are mainly tailings which oxidise to produce acid. The river could be devoid of aquatic life for another 200 years.

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