Iron Sediments From Shuttered Mines Tint Local Waterways


'Restricted Area, No Entry, Danger' at Schlabendorfer See lake near... News PhotoEnvironmental Damage,Environmental Issues,Germany,Horizontal,Lake,Pollution,Reading,SpreewaldPhotographer Collection: Getty Images News 2013 Getty ImagesSCHLABENDORF, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A sign reads: 'Restricted Area, No Entry, Danger' at Schlabendorfer See lake near the Spreewald region on April 17, 2013 in Schlabendorf, Germany. Schlabendorfer See is a man-made lake created from the conversion of the former Schlabendorf open-pit coal mine and is heavily burdened with iron sediment. The lake is currently too full of water, hence the access restrictions, though local authorities cannot release the excess water because the nearby Wudritz creek is already inundated with the iron sediment. Many creeks and small rivers that feed the nearby Spree River have turned a rich orange or brown, sometimes even red, due to the sediments flowing from several former open pit coal mines. The Spreewald is a popular tourist destination known for its network of canals and local tour operators fear the sediment will turn the waters there orange as well, which could seriously impact the tourist seasons. Though the iron sediment is not poisonous, some local farmers claim they have been forced to filter the water they use to irrigate their fields, and many people report the disappearance of fish and other fauna. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)