Displaying items by tag: pollution
#MarineWildlife - There's some good news for marine wildlife in Clare and around the Irish coast as a recent study on the health of whales and dolphins in Europe's oceans identified Ireland's population as among the world's healthiest.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the paper in journal Scientific Reports identified lingering traces of now banned chemicals called PCBs that are still affecting the reproductive rates of cetaceans in European waters, particularly killer whales.
Biopsy samples of dolphins from the Shannon Estuary were included in the global study – but all indications are that the whales and dolphins that populate the sanctuary of Irish waters are among the healthiest in the region, though they still face the threat of pollutants in the Shannon Estuary, as the Clare Champion reports.
#MarineWildlife - Toxic chemicals banned in Europe nearly 30 years ago are still polluting the seas off the continent.
The warning comes from newly published research on concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in marine wildlife – specifically orcas and other dolphins – in Irish, British and Mediterranean waters.
Co-authored by Dr Simon Berrow of GMIT and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the paper in the latest issue of journal Scientific Reports claims that despite the outright ban on the use of PCBs since 1987, they persist in "dangerously high levels in European cetaceans".
High exposure to PCBs, once used in the manufacture of paints and electrical equipment, weakens the immune systems of cetaceans and has a severe effect on their breeding rates.
#Rio2016 - 'Tropical heat' has been blamed by Rio government officials for the thousands of dead fish that washed up this week on the shores of Guanabara Bay, venue for this summer's Olympic sailing events.
But as Scuttlebutt Sailing News reports, locals are not so sure – believing contamination of the bay's notoriously polluted waters to be the real cause.
Just last month it emerged that sailors who ingest just three teaspoons of water from the planned Olympic sailing courses have a 99% chance of contracting a viral infection.
City authorities, meanwhile, also investigating whether the fish – mostly sardines – may have been illegally discarded by commercial fishermen.
It comes nine months after a similar fish kill clogged the Olympic rowing venue at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon – a common occurrence in a body of water that periodically suffers from shortage of oxygen.
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.
#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.
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.
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.
#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".
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.
#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.