Harken Derm

Dead fish invade Olympic sailing venue

Published on February 27th, 2015

Rio de Janeiro’s state environmental agency says it is investigating a fish die-off that has left thousands of carcasses floating in waters where sailing events are to be held when Brazil hosts next year’s Olympics.

The dead twaite shad, small whitish gray fish, were discovered Tuesday (Feb. 24) by inspectors conducting routine water testing in Rio’s sewage- and trash-filled Guanabara Bay. The agency was conducting tests to determine the cause of the die-off, with results expected in a week, it said in a statement Tuesday.

The discovery of the fish, which were washing up on the coastline outside Rio’s international airport and about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the starting point for the 2016 Olympic sailing events, comes amid a visit by International Olympic Committee inspectors, in Rio to check up on the city’s progress in preparing for the games.

It also follows upbeat comments by Rio Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao, who said the city was working to meet its pledge to treat 80 percent of the sewage in the sprawling urban area that rings the bay. While the lion’s share of area sewage long has long flowed, raw, into the bay, Pezao said 49 percent of the area’s sewage was now being treated. Still, he acknowledged that Rio is unlikely to meet its goal of 80 percent treatment.

“It’s not easy,” he told reporters at an event in Rio’s subway system on Wednesday (Feb. 25). “Every time we have a negotiation, the bidding process (for the project) slows and postpones things.”

The IOC executive director of the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi, said at a news conference in Rio on Wednesday that it’s his understanding the goal of depolluting Guanabara Bay by 80 percent remains.

“We are still aiming for this goal. We cannot judge until the finish line,” he said. “We are like athletes in that we are pushing toward the finish line and we should respect that every effort is being made.”

Water quality has become a hot-button issue as the Olympics draw closer with little sign of progress in cleaning up the fetid bay, as well as the lagoon system in western Rio that hugs the sites of the Olympic park, the very heart of the games. – AP, full story

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