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#Rio2016 - A smart new system for automatic cleaning of marinas has reached its crowdfunding goal with days to spare – and could soon be employed at the Olympic Games.

According to Sail World, the Rio 2016 organisers are among those who have expressed interest in and voiced support for the SeaBin, an automated rubbish bin designed to collect floating debris and oil from busy marina berths.

The project, launched by Australians Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton, has surpassed its $230,000 by more than $17,000 with four days to go as of today (Monday 4 January).

It means the project can now move on to the next stage, working with a French manufacturer to develop a new generation of SeaBins made from mostly recycles plastics.

And it's possible we might see the first SeaBins in action at the Rio sailing villages this summer – although there's not that can be done about viral contaminants in Guanabara Bay, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#Pollution - The effects of diesel laundering over decades in South Armagh are being felt even greater today, say Dundalk anglers, as the New Year starts with the River Fane closed to all but catch-and-release fishing.

As Independent.ie reports, a 10-fold decrease in stocks of salmon as well as brown trout and sea trout in the river, which flows into Dundalk Bay from the Monaghan-Armagh border, is the direct result of diesel laundering operations by the IRA since at least the 1980s.

Waste from the process of converting subsidised agricultural 'green' diesel to 'white' diesel for general road use has reportedly been dumped openly into a tributary of Lough Ross, which feeds into the Fane – a river that supplies drinking water to Dundalk and much of North Louth.

A recent study found that these pollutants include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, the same chemicals that continue to affect spawning grounds in areas impacted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska 26 years ago.

Independent.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#Rio2016 - Sailors in Rio who ingest just three teaspoons of water from the Olympic courses on Guanabara Bay have a 99% chance of being infected by a virus.

That's according to the latest damning findings from the Associated Press, following from its own investigation earlier this year that found levels of viruses detected at the Olympic sailing venue to be as much as 1.7 million times this allowed on California beaches.

Samples taken more recently now indicate that a high concentration of viruses is detectable even more than a kilometre offshore away from the pollution sources that have plagued Rio's waters for decades.

Despite assurances by the ISAF – which previously floated the idea of moving the sailing venue out of Rio to cleaner waters – that steps were being taken "to ensure the health and safety of all athletes", there was still an illness rate of 7% among sailors competing at an Olympic test event in August.

That figure included 49er bronze medallist Erik Heil, who was treated for severe inflammations in his legs and a hip.

The cause of his illness turned out to be the superbug MRSA, and Heil has since proposed wearing plastic overalls while sailing out from the shore to limit his exposure to that an other bacterial infections.

But experts in waterborne viruses have told the AP that such efforts are futile when Rio's Olympic waterways "are as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land".

The AP has much more on the story HERE, coming in the same week as the ISAF's chief executive Peter Sowrey resigned after only six months in the job – the latest in a spate of high-profile departures from sailing's world governing body.

Published in Olympic

#Angling - Newtownabbey anglers have urged vigilance after the discovery of a pollutant flowing into the Three Mile Water in the Co Antrim town earlier this week.

As the Newtownabbey Times reports, the suspect discharge was coming from a sewage pumping station.

But later tests by Northern Ireland Water and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency found no damage had been caused to the river habitat.

The Newtownabbey Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#Rio2016 - The blame for Rio's pollution woes should fall squarely on local political leaders and not on sporting bodies, according to the head of Britain's sailing team.

As Scuttlebut Sailing News reports, Stephen Park says the press should turn its attention to those responsible for the notorious pollution problems in Guanabara Bay – the sailing and windsurfing venue for the 2016 Olympic Games – rather than place the burden on sailing's country leaders to withdraw from the venue.

Park's comments come in the wake of news that another sailor was hospitalised after the recent Aquece test event with a bacterial infection believed contracted in Rio's waters.

According to Sail-World, 49er bronze medallist Erik Heil was treated for severe inflammations in his legs and one hip which he says began on his journey home from Rio.

And the sailor has explicity blamed his illness on the waters of Marina da Glória, where wastewater from the city's hospitals flows openly into the bay, and has had his case taken ip by the German Olympic Sports Confederation, as the Guardian reports.

Heil's post-Rio illness follows that of Kiwi 470 sailor Jo Aleh, who missed three races at Aquece over a bug alleged to be connected with water contamination, and South Korean windsurfer Wonwoo Cho, whose hospitalisation came just days after the ISAF's latest threat to move Olympic sailing events to a new course in the Atlantic.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a recent investigation into water quality at the current Olympic sailing venue found that athletes are "almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses".

Published in Olympic

#CoastalNotes - 'Poor' water quality off Youghal have seen the Cork town's beach subject to bathing advisories for the remainder of the summer season, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Stricter EU regulations on bathing water quality have prompted Cork County Council to erect notices advising against swimming at the popular Front Strand till at least 15 September.

Regular testing will be carried out in the meantime at the beach, which suffers more than others in the area due to runoff from farms along the River Blackwater which enters the sea nearby.

Youghal has long been identified as a pollution blackspot on the Irish coast, being one of a number of urban areas still discharging untreated wastewater into the sea.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Rio2016 - Despite seeing "significant progress", International Olympic Committee officials have again expressed concerns over the readiness of Rio's sailing waters for next summer's Olympic Games amid controversy over pollution levels in Guanabara Bay.

As Euronews reports, city officials have been consolidating their clean-up efforts in competition areas despite those parts of Guanabara Bay being already declared safe by Rio 2016 organisers.

IOC president Thomas Bach said yesterday (Monday 8 June) in Lausanne that the committee's executive is "watching this situation very closely and we are expecting more information and more reports by the time of our next meeting, next month in Kuala Lumpur."

The latest news comes a month after Brazilian officials hurried to quash fears over water quality for competing sailors with a PR stunt that failed to impress local journalists – not to mention the ISAF's own concerns for the safety of its athletes.

In the meantime, as city officials continue to play catch-up, local community groups have taken up the slack with their own grassroots clean-up effort.

"Civil society is stepping forward where the government has failed," writes Shanna Hansbury in the Guardian. "From all corners of Rio de Janeiro, people are working towards the lasting legacy they were promised.

"Fishermen are reporting environmental crimes, engineers are developing new technologies, biologists are replanting mangrove swamps, and sailors are operating eco-boats to remove floating rubbish."

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#Rio2016 - Brazil has hurried to squash growing fears over the safety of sailing waters for next summer's Rio Olympics – but one state official's dip in Guanabara Bay hasn't stemmed the backlash.

The Associated Press reports on the "televised stunt" last week that saw environmental secretary Andrea Correa dive into the waters where sailors are expected to race just over a year from now.

In the footage recorded for the news magazine show Fantastico – which previously aired a report highly critical of Rio's failure to fulfil its promises to clean up the notoriously polluted Guanabara Bay – Correa compared its waters to the popular beaches of "Ipanema or Barra".

But the PR exercise did not impress the Fantastico team, who stressed in their programme that the official selected the time and place for his dip, at high tide near the mouth of the bay in cleaner ocean water.

Commenting on the story at the Royal Cork YC website, Peter Webster – a chemist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – repeated concerns that Rio's sailing waters fall far short of European bathing water quality standards.

"For our Olympic competitors... these standards should be being demanded by the ISA or the relevant swimming national bodies," he says. "From the evidence I’ve seen of pollution in Guanabara Bay there is no way that water-sports of any kind should be being held there."

The ISAF has already suggested it could make a formal call to move Olympic sailing out of the city for the safety of athletes.

Published in Olympic

#Rio2016 - Annalise Murphy, James Espey, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern are already Rio-bound - but could their sailing venue at the 2016 Olympics be moved out of Guanabara Bay?

That's what the sport's world governing body has threatened to do if city authorities don't clean up their act, according to the Associated Press.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, local Olympic officials have confirmed that the notoriously polluted waters of Brazil's largest city will not be fully cleaned as promised in time for next summer's Olympiad.

The sailing venue was slammed as "absolutely disgusting" by Irish Olympic sailing coach Ian Barker on a visit to Rio at the end of 2013.

Yet while hopes remained in the interim that city officials would make good on their assurances of safe and clean waters for sailors, those have been dashed in recent weeks – with safety concerns over floating rubbish and the discovery of a new 'super-bacteria' in one of the many sewage-filled rivers that flow into the bay.

That's not to mention similar worries over the venue for rowing and canoeing at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon – recently the site of an extensive fish kill.

The situation has now prompted the ISAF to call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to step up the pressure on Brazil's politicians, with the sailing body's Alastair Fox claiming he and fellow officials were "frustrated with it all".

In a phone interview with the AP's Stephen Wade, Fox said: "We are going to review the situation and make some more recommendations – demands is probably the right word – to make sure things are done."

The ISAF's head of competitions also suggested that "if we have to race all the races outside the bay, if that's what it comes to, to ensure a fair regatta, then that's something we're going to explore and could do."

The AP has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Olympic

#CoastalNotes - Ireland gets an 'A' for seaside bathing, as 94% of beaches have met the EU's new stricter water quality standards.

And as RTÉ News reports, three out of every four Irish beaches have been rated as 'excellent' on the new scale for levels of microbiological contaminants, which is "twice as strict" as in previous years.

But seven out of 136 bathing places monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014 still failed the test.

Youghal in Cork, Clifden and Ballyloughane in Galway, Rush's south beach in North Co Dublin, Duncannon in Wexford, Ardmore in Waterford and Liliput on Lough Ennell in the Midlands were all rated 'poor', for the most part due to wastewater discharges.

Ten other popular seaside spots – including Trá na mBan in Spiddal and the beaches at Merrion Strand, Loughshinny and Balbriggan's front strand in Co Dublin - were rated as 'sufficient' as they are still prone to periodic pollution episodes, according to The Irish Times.

But there was good news for the denizens of Trá Inis Oirr in Galway Bay, which scored an 'excellent' rating in its first year on the EPA's list.

The Aran Islands beach was added in the same year that nearby Trá gCaorach became a first-time winner in the National Green Coast Awards.

The EPA's Splash website maps out the latest bathing quality ratings for beaches around and throughout Ireland. The agency's report on bathing quality in 2014 can be found HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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