No Medals for San­i­ta­tion at Rio Olympics

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

war­rant at his home. He was charged with pos­ses­sion of co­caine, traf­fick­ing co­caine and pos­ses­sion with in­tent to sup­ply co­caine.

- Caribbean360

The big­gest frus­tra­tion at the Olympic Games, to be in­au­gu­rated in Rio de Janeiro on Au­gust 5, is the fail­ure to meet en­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tion tar­gets and prom­ises in the city’s beaches, rivers, lakes and la­goons.

The op­por­tu­nity to give a de­ci­sive push to the cleanup of Rio’s em­blem­atic Gua­n­abara bay and its la­goons has been lost. The drive against wa­ter­borne pol­lu­tion was part of the pro­posal which won the city the right to host the 2016 Sum­mer Olympics.

What hap­pened con­firms the na­tional tra­di­tion of giv­ing san­i­ta­tion low pri­or­ity on the gov­ern­ment agenda. So far only half the Brazil­ian pop­u­la­tion has ac­cess to piped wa­ter, and only a small pro­por­tion of trans­ported wa­ter is treated.

“The en­vi­ron­ment pays no taxes and nei­ther does it vote, there­fore it does not com­mand the at­ten­tion of our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers nor of so­ci­ety as a whole,” com­plained bi­ol­o­gist Mario Moscatelli, a well known wa­ter is­sues ac­tivist.

Planes touch down at the in­ter­na­tional aiport on the edge of one of the most pol­luted parts of Gua­n­abara bay. The air­port, which was home to 212,754 peo­ple in 2010 ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial cen­sus, is close to canals tak­ing un­treated ef­flu­ent and rub­bish from mil­lions of peo­ple liv­ing on the main­land.

Gua­n­abara bay re­ceives 90 tonnes daily of rub­bish and 18,000 litres per sec­ond of un­treated waste wa­ter, mainly via the 55 rivers and canals that flow into it, ac­cord­ing to Ser­gio Ri­cardo de Lima, an ecol­o­gist and founder of the Bahia Viva (Liv­ing Bay) move­ment.

Rio’s Olympic bid an­nounced a tar­get of clean­ing up 80 per­cent of the ef­flu­ents reach­ing the bay. The ac­tual pro­por­tion achieved was 55 per­cent, Sports Min­is­ter Leonardo Pic­ciani said at a press con­fer­ence.

The 80 per­cent tar­get was not re­al­is­tic; com­pletely de­con­tam­i­nat­ing the bay would re­quire 25 to 30 years and san­i­ta­tion in­vest­ments equiv­a­lent to six bil­lion dol­lars, An­dré Correa, en­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary for the state of Rio de Janeiro, ad­mit­ted.

- Caribbean360

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