Is Tunisia's New Lake Radioactive?

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A newly formed lake in Tunisia may be radioactive.

The lake, called Gafsa Beach, located in the Gafsa region of southern Tunisia, only recently appeared in an otherwise drought-hit area and has since been frequented by hundreds of local residents, reports France24.

The quality of the water and the origin of the lake have come under question.

Gafsa’s Office of Public Safety has put out a warning that the lake was dangerous and unfit for swimming.

Public Safety director Hatef Ouigi said the “warning was a cautionary measure undertaken while teams of experts verified the water’s quality.”

The results of the tests are pending.

Journalist Lakhdar Souid has been investigating the sudden appearance of the lake and has found many people who view it as a miracle.

Others see it as a curse.

Lacking information from local authorities, Souid looked to a geologist at Gafsa’s college of science for answers.

One theory is that the lake was formed due to an upset in seismic activity causing groundwater to rise to the surface.

But the real risk is that the water may contain large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue, reports the New York Post.

Phosphate mining is the region's main industry.

Therefore, the water may be contaminated and carcinogenic.

“But since there was no official ban on swimming in the lake, Tunisians continue to do so,” Souid said.

The water in the lake was originally a clear, turquoise blue. It is now a greenish color and filled with algae.

“The site is certainly stunning and there are many large rocks perfect for diving but it has become infested with green algae, meaning that the water is stagnant and conducive to diseases,” Souid said.

People continue to swim at Gafsa Beach and a Facebook page has been created for the site.

Photo Source: LAC De Gafsa/Facebook