News / Americas

Rio Resorts to Stop Gap Clean-up of Bay to Host Olympic Sailing

A plastic bottle and a tire are seen near a fishing boat on Fundao beach in the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, March 13, 2014.
A plastic bottle and a tire are seen near a fishing boat on Fundao beach in the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, March 13, 2014.
Reuters
Rio's attempts at cleaning the waters where Olympic sailing events will be held in 2016 are so far behind schedule clean-up efforts are now stop gap rather than lasting, local officials admitted on Thursday.
 
“Cleaning rubbish from the Guanabara Bay will be a stop gap effort,” said Carlos Portinho, the state's sub-secretary for the environment. “But it's what we have to do.”
 
Portinho, who took office this week and is charged with cleaning the bay's notoriously fetid waters, criticized the urban districts that surround the bay for contributing to the pollution.
 
“The municipalities are on the coast of the Guanabara Bay and they don't think the rubbish thrown in the bay is their responsibility,” he said.
 
Portinho said tenders for seven “ecoboats” that will skim garbage from the water's
A garbage-collecting boat in seen in front of the Sugar Loaf mountain at the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, March 12, 2014.A garbage-collecting boat in seen in front of the Sugar Loaf mountain at the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, March 12, 2014.
x
A garbage-collecting boat in seen in front of the Sugar Loaf mountain at the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, March 12, 2014.
A garbage-collecting boat in seen in front of the Sugar Loaf mountain at the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, March 12, 2014.
surface and nine “ecobarriers” designed to stop rubbish from flowing into the bay from tributaries are scheduled to take place this month.
 
Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent on cleaning the bay - much of it from foreign donors - but the situation remains critical.
 
The bay is an integral part of Rio de Janeiro's topography and skirts large parts of the city, most famously running along Botafogo and Flamengo beaches below Sugarloaf mountain.
 
Tourists to the city who cross the bay when driving in from the international airport are greeted by a fetid stench. Sailors have expressed disgust at the high level of coliforms and other pollutants.
 
Reuters reporters who sailed on the bay last month came across all sorts of floating debris, including an old sofa.
 
When it won the right to host the games back in 2009, Rio promised it would treat 80 percent of the sewage water flowing into the bay by the time the games start in August 2016.
 
However, almost five years later, only half that target has been reached, said Gelson Serva, the state's waste water coordinator.
 
The scandal over dirty waters is just one of the problems facing South America's first ever Olympic host city.
 
Earlier this week, 17 international sporting federations criticized Brazilian authorities for the slow pace of work and a lack of institutional support.
 
Construction work at a purpose-built complex where eight events will take place has yet to start and the pace of work at others is slow.  Workers have been on strike for a week at the Olympic Park, the main cluster of venues.
 
In spite of the river of bad news, Rio officials maintain that everything is under control and that the Games will be “great.”

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Pope to Tour 3 South American Countries

Grueling, week-long trip will showcase Francis at his unpredictable best: speaking his native Spanish on his home turf about issues closest to his heart
More

Congress Aims to Keep Bans on Dealing with Cuban Military

Proposed legislation would ban Americans from engaging in any financial transactions with the Cuban military or the Cuban Ministry of the Interior
More

Video Rapprochement Opens New, Uncertain Chapter in US-Cuba Relations

Change is result of months of secret negotiations that culminated in December with decision to resume ties, but critics say nothing has changed in Cuba’s human rights record
More

Pirates and Hold-ups: Crime Strikes Venezuela's Oil Industry

National crime pandemic is a growing headache for the oil industry, which accounts for nearly all of the country's export revenues
More

US Defense Secretary: 'No Anticipation' of Giving Up Base in Cuba

Havana says normalization of relations will require surrendering base US has leased since 1903
More

Mexico Supreme Court Judge Urges States to Legalize Gay Marriage

Court ruled in decision published on June 19 that laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman were unconstitutional
More