Monday, June 20, 2016

2016 OLYMPICS - The Toxic 'Pool'

"In Brazil's Olympic bay, tides of death and ecological devastation" PBS NewsHour 6/17/2016


SUMMARY:  Among the many concerns confronting Brazil's first Olympic Games, one of the most pressing is the state of Guanabara Bay, site of the sailing competition.  A vital source of income for local fishermen, the bay is severely polluted and lethally toxic -- but those fighting to preserve it face a violent response.  Special correspondent Lulu Garcia-Navarro of NPR reports.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO (NPR):  Alexandre Anderson is a hunted man, targeted for his work on these treacherous waters.

Every day, as he heads out onto Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay, he's on a mission to defend the bay he calls home.  He tells us its stark beauty hides a dark reality.

ALEXANDRE ANDERSON, Fisherman (through interpreter):  We hope the Olympics will show the world another bay.  There is the bay for the rich, for visitors to see, and there is the bay of the fishermen, who are suffering.  That is the bay of excrement, garbage, and oil.  It is the Guanabara Bay of violence.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO:  Alexandre took us on a tour of that bay.  He knows it well.  He grew up fishing here.  But as the bay got more and more polluted, he became an activist, who leads a fishermen's organization.

The ecological devastation here is hard to miss.  He shows us a mangrove swamp used as an illegal dumping ground for trash.  Raw sewage is also pumped into the bay from communities that have no access to sanitation.

But for Alexandre Anderson, the biggest polluters are not only the residents who lack basic infrastructure, but also the petroleum industry.  This is one of the biggest refineries in the area.  And it's right on the banks of the Guanabara Bay.

And you can see here in the water it's slick with oil.  Rio de Janeiro, a world-famous beach town, is also Brazil's oil and gas heartland.  Energy accounted for 13 percent of Brazil's GDP in 2014.  And almost three-quarters of the world's recent deep-water oil discoveries have been made in Brazil.  The Guanabara Bay is the industry's hub.

Alexandre takes us to an oil industry shipyard and points out broken eco-barriers meant to stop paint and chemicals from leaking into the water.

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