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International Space Sta...
2007-07-12 0:0:0
 
Description ISS014-E-14618 (23 Feb. 2007) --- Maracaibo City and Oil Slick, Venezuela are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 14 crewmember on the International Space Station. This view depicts the narrow (6 kilometers) strait between Lake Maracaibo to the south and the Gulf of Venezuela to the north. This brackish lake in northern Venezuela is the largest in South America. The lake and its small basin are situated atop a vast reservoir of buried oil deposits, first tapped in 1914. Venezuela is now the world's fifth largest oil producer. The narrow strait is deepened to allow access by ocean-going vessels, dozens of which now daily transport approximately 80 per cent of Venezuela's oil to world markets. Shipping is one of the main polluters of the lake, caused by the dumping of ballast and other waste. An oil slick, likely related to bilge pumping, can be seen as a bright streak northeast of El Triunfo. Other sources of pollution to the lake include underwater oil pipeline leakage, untreated municipal and industrial waste from coastal cities, and runoff of chemicals from surrounding farm land. Deepening the narrow channel for shipping has also allowed saltwater intrusion into the lake, leading to adverse effects to Lake Biota. Since the discovery of oil, cities like Maracaibo have sprung up along the northwestern coastline of the lake. With satellite cities such as San Luis and El Triunfo, greater Maracaibo has a population of approximately 2.5 million. Just outside the lower margin of the picture a major bridge spans the narrows pictured here, connecting cities such as Altagracia (top right) to Maracaibo.
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