Naturalizing pollution: A critical social science view on the link between potash mining and salinization in the Llobregat river basin, northeast Spain

Santiago Gorostiza, David Saurí

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2018 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. The scientific literature distinguishes between primary or natural and secondary or human-induced salinization. Assessing this distinction is of vital importance to assign liabilities and responsibilities in pollution cases and for designing the best policy and management actions. In this context, actors interested in downplaying the role of certain drivers of human-induced salinization can attempt to neglect its importance by referring to natural salinization, in a similar fashion to other pollution and health-related cases, from tobacco smoke to climate change. Potash mining, which has experienced continued growth during the last decades and is a significant contributor to salinization, is prone to originate such controversies because natural salinization from the saline geological catch can be mixed with salinization produced by mining waste such as brines and mine tailings, thus obscuring the distinction between causes. By reviewing the long-standing social and environmental conflict caused by potash mining in a region of Mediterranean climate—the Llobregat river basin—in this article, we highlight the importance of the impacts of salinization on human health and provide a critical social science perspective on salinization processes. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Salt in freshwaters: causes, ecological consequences and future prospects’.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20180006
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume374
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Disinfection by-products
  • Environmental history
  • Environmental justice
  • Llobregat
  • Salinization
  • Water quality

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