tv Earth Focus LINKTV March 17, 2021 9:00pm-9:31pm PDT
man: we're in madre de dios, and this is an area that until recently has been pristine forests and a small town really close to the triple border between peru, bolivia, and brazil. starting in the early 2000s, there was a plan to build a major highway moving products from brazil over the andes to the ports in the pacific for exports to places like china. that changed the face of madre de dios. it connected the city of puerto maldonado with the city of cusco in the andes. that voyage used to take about two weeks in the rainy season. now it takes about 6 hours. the price of gold started to
rise, and in 2008, it skyrocketed. and that created an unprecedented gold boom for tens of thousands of miner who came from mainly the andes into madre de dios and started to take the forest apart. some of the most dense and biodiverse rain forests in the world. so la pampa is an area next to the highway. about 5 years ago, this was a place that was a couple miners, a couple tents. and it eventually became an illegal city that had thousands of people and was the gateway to the hotspot of illegal gold mining in the amazon. [karina garay speaking spanish]
[luis hidalgo okimura speaking spanish] [teacher speaking spanish] fernandez: an ngo that tracks mercurynd mining has estimated 185 tons of mercury are released to the rivers and lakes of this region every year. and at the bottom of those rivers and lakes, there are naturally occurring bacteria that transform liquid elemental mercury and turn it into another form of mercury which is even more dangerous, which is
methylmercury. fernandez: it's a type of mercury that's absorbed almost at 100% by living organisms. [student laughing] fernandez: plankton and plants that are contaminated with mercury then get eaten by one fish, and then another fish will eat that fish and so on and so on up the food chain. but mercury has a very unusual characteristic. it magnifies. when it goes from one link in at chaino the other, it magnifies roughly by a factor of 10. they are then exposed to levels of mercury that could be millions of times higher than the water where that fish was swimming.
announcer: funding for this program was provided by the minerva nolte estate. [music playing] woman: people are getting water in their home. [man speaking spanish] woman 2: we need gender equality, and we need this reflted in nional priorities. narrator: in india, millions of city residents don't have running water in their homes. narrator: in west virginia drinking water is threaten by chemical spills, mining, and hydraulic fracking wells. woman: this is my water from this morning. narrator: on the other hand, cities across europe are buying