Friday, December 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sailors to navigate dirty water in 1st Rio test

By
July 30, 2014 |

RIO DE JANEIRO — Sailors, coaches and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro acknowledge the problem: Guanabara Bay, the venue for sailing at the 2016 Olympics, is badly polluted. Some liken it to a sewer.

The water is filthy after years of untreated waste being poured into the enclosed bay, a mess officials say will take at least a decade to fix.

From a distance, the venue is picturesque, framed between Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue. This is the image Rio organizers want the world to see.

Yes, the venue will make good television. The conditions for the athletes? That’s another story.

“A few days ago, one of the sailors had to jump in the water and the first thing he did after coming up was take a bottle of water and wash his mouth and face,” said Ivan Bulaja, a former Olympian who coaches the Austrian team. “When you feel this water on your face you feel uncomfortable. You have no idea what’s in it. I think no sailor is comfortable sailing here. I guess you can get seriously ill.”

But sail they will, starting Sunday with the first test event of the Rio Games. The weeklong regatta will feature all 10 Olympic classes, with 216 boats and 321 competitors from 34 nations.

Rio dumps almost 70 percent of its untreated sewage into the surrounding waters. Cleaning the bay was part of the pitch to land the Olympics, with officials pledging to cut the flow by 80 percent by 2016.

But Rio’s state environment secretary, Carlos Francisco Portinho, has acknowledged in a best-case scenario the reduction will be only 50 percent.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes acknowledged two months ago that the problem would not be solved for the Olympics.

“I’m sorry that we did not use the games to get Guanabara Bay completely clean,” Paes said. But he added he was “not afraid for the health of any of the athletes. It’s going to be fine.”

A series of stopgap remedies are being put in place — rubbish boats to retrieve floating debris, and barriers to stop sofas, wooden chairs and plastic bags from entering the bay in the first place.

Rio state environment officials said in the first three months of the year, three boats retrieved 33 tons of solid waste. Ten will be operating for the test event.

The other problem is less visible: untreated human waste, which can’t be retrieved and leaves a stench all around the bay.

“At low tide, it smells like sewage water. It smells like a toilet,” said Austrian sailor Nikolaus Resch, who finished fourth at the London Olympics in the 49er class with teammate Nico Delle Karth. “You see people going for a swim. I would never — under free will — go in the water here.”

At a small regatta last year, sailors were seen using alcohol to clean their hands after leaving the brown-black water, often capped with green foam.

To allay fears, the International Sailing Federation and local organizers are encouraging teams to test the water around the course areas. Rio state environment officials describe these areas as “suitable for swimming.”

State environment officials say they monitor fecal coliforms monthly, but have been doing it every two weeks since June to prepare for the regatta.

Tides, shifting currents and rainfall mean parts of the heavily industrial bay are cleaner than others, and several race courses are located just outside the bay in the open Atlantic.

“A lot of people have been talking about pollution,” Alastair Fox, head of competitions for the sailing federation, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It would be nice not to be able to talk about that. But we all know that it’s there. We need to make sure that as much is done as possible to make a safe and healthy venue.”

Fox said the ISAF was making no health recommendations, although a physician contacted by AP said all sailors should be vaccinated for hepatitis A. Other waterborne diseases like diarrhea and gastroenteritis can be picked up in dirty water.

Fox said many sailors were more worried about floating furniture, submerged trash bags and streams of flotsam fouling their rudders, than they were about human waste.

“Presuming the water quality is OK, as in the sewage levels, for us it’s imperative we have a clean field of play,” Fox said. “We can’t have a field of play with any objects in it that impact on the sailors’ ability to race.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Sondheim’s ‘Woods’ holiday showcase for Missouri Street Theatre

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings play role in civic life

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Frankye Kelly ready to spread holiday cheer

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Celebrate the magic of Christmas

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Santas have busy week at schools

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Safe streets task force work nets 3

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

 
 
Solano College approves officers, meeting schedule

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

Longtime Suisun harbor master to retire

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Sony film took aim at North Korea’s biggest taboo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Local emergencies in Northern California counties after rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California’s top utility regulator defends record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
‘Pretty horrible’ scene; car slams into crowd

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police: Drunk man shot while entering wrong house

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
‘Prison Houdini’ set to make his 1st legal escape

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Top Islamic militants killed; more US troops going to Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Feds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Russian sailors leaving France without warship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

 
European court rules obesity can be a disability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
News of the day strikes a chord

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
Another look at school bonds

By George Guynn Jr. | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D8

 
Should I use Child Protective Services threat to get back rent?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D8

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Dec. 19-25, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Robin Williams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Craig Ferguson to end 10 years as host of ‘Late Late Show’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Eric Idle brings ‘Not the Messiah’ to Carnegie Hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

.

Sports

A’s trade All-Star catcher Derek Norris to Padres

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
A’s acquire lefty De La Rosa from Arizona for cash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Raiders defense depleted by injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
49ers’ Harbaugh mum on reported offer from Michigan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

49ers’ Aldon Smith hopes to build off tough year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Rivera: Newton ‘probably’ will start vs. Browns

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Bears bench QB Jay Cutler for Clausen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Celtics trade Rondo to Mavericks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Rodriguez boys open Les Curry Tournament with victory

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

39 bowl games and a reason to watch every one

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Column: Thaw in US-Cuba relations warms up MLB

By Jim Litke | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B11

 
.

Business

Roomiest Subaru Legacy debuts for 2015

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Dow industrials have their best day in three years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Ford expands drivers air bag recall nationwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

Lisa Dee McHughes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Dominic C. Scolaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Travis Curt Price

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Jennie Ponce Reyes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics