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Displaying items by tag: pollution

#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
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#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

#CoastalNotes - Is Connemara at risk of disappearing into the sea? According to one geologist, that's a distinct possibility.

As the Irish Mirror reports, Jonathon Wilkins noticed that the tide was flooding channels in a peat bog near NUI Galway – a tell-tale sign of 'post-glacial rebound'.

That's the process of the land recovering from the weight of glaciers during the Ice Age, and in most cases it means the level of the earth is rising, such as northern parts of the island of Ireland.

But Connemara is one of those that's dropping, and slowing slipping below sea level as the seawater effectively dissolves the bogs and granite bedrock.

Wales-based geological expert Wilkins described what he saw as "very powerful evidence that sea level, to my surprise, is rising in this area, and demonstrably over quite a short time scale."

Disappearing even faster into the sea is an old landfill site in Bray – and it's raised the ire of environmentalists.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the disused rubbish tip north of the Co Wicklow seaside town continues to lose some of its 200,000 tonnes of refuse into the Irish Sea due to coastal erosion.

And that's despite the problem being identified more than 20 years ago, according to Coastwatch – which says some 200 metres of the face of the landfill site has been exposed by weathering, littering the cliffs below.

The pollution only adds to the 8.8 millions tonnes of plastic that's dumped into the world's oceans every year, according to the journal Science.

The Irish Times reports on these latest findings, which show that one third of this plastic waste is produced by China alone.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Rio2016 - Rio is turning to Dutch researchers for help in combating its water pollution problems that continue to cause concern for the Olympic sailing fleet.

As the Associated Press reports, water research foundation Deltares has developed technology using data collected from both weather and water conditions to predict areas where litter accumulates, allowing Rio authorities to focus their clean-up efforts more efficiently.

It comes some days after a programme to retrieve floating rubbish from the sailing venue in Guanabara Bay was halted by city officials, reviving fears that Rio's 'dirty water problem' will not be solved in time for the 2016 Games.

Objects floating in the water have been cited as a major cause of concern by both Olympic and world sailing organisers, but water-borne contaminants have also been highlighted.

Last December news emerged of a newly discovered 'super-bacteria' that could pose a significant threat to health at next year's Summer Olympics for competitors like Annalise Murphy, James Espey, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern who have already nabbed their spots and will be training in Rio's "absolutely disgusting" waters ahead of the Olympics.

The Associated Press has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Olympic
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