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Oil, aquatic trash and toxic algae threaten life in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo

The fishermen of Lake Maracaibo say they face their worst nightmare everyday as fish stocks decline and pollution degrades the health of this great freshwater lake, one of the oldest — and largest — in the world. Lake Maracaibo, which once was at the heart of Venezuela’s oil boom, has turned into a polluted wasteland, according to environmentalists. The pollution of the lake, located about 600 kilometers west of Caracas, is the result of decades of excessive oil exploitation, poor maintenance of the obsolete infrastructure and a lack of waste treatment plants in the area. Tens of thousands of kilometers of pipes lie at its bottom, where crude oil leaks.

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