Switzerland’s sewage system is literally a gold mine as researchers estimate that the gold coursing through the country’s sewers and waste water treatment facilities annually is worth more than 2.3 million dollars.
New research suggests around 95 pounds of the precious metal enter the 8.3-million-people country’s sewage systems on an annual basis. The research was carried out by the local science institute, Eawag.
Study authors think that the material ends up in the sewers from gold refineries and the nation’s prolific watchmaking industry.
In their study, scientists analyzed waste water samples from 64 municipalities in Switzerland. The study had the nod of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, sources told CNN.
Researchers also found that there was more gold in some parts of the country than in others. The highest concentrations of the rare metal were spotted in the proximity of gold refineries.
Sewage Pipes May Be Packed with Silver Too
Nevertheless, Swiss sewage pipes are not only carrying gold. Researchers discovered that large amounts of silver or other similar metal are present there too. Silver usually ends up in the sewage system from the electronic devices-producing industry.
According to a CNN report, the Swiss sewage system is flooded with 6,500 pounds of silver, which is worth around $1.8 million per year.
Local researchers said that the rare metals packing their country’s sewage pipes would cost too much to be retrieved and recycled to worth the effort. The research team labeled the effort to retrieve the materials “scarcely worthwhile”.
The news comes just one month after Swiss authorities discovered $120,000 worth of damaged 500-euro bills in some of Geneva’s toilets. Investigators found that two women from Spain flushed the cash down the toilet at a local restaurant and a UBS bank in a bid to escape prosecution for a money laundering scheme.
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