Brazilian police probe sewage plant

2016-04-08 15:53
Sugarloaf Mountain is seen behind the renovated Marina da Gloria, the starting point of the 2016 Olympic sailing competition in Brazil. (Felipe Dana, AP)

Sugarloaf Mountain is seen behind the renovated Marina da Gloria, the starting point of the 2016 Olympic sailing competition in Brazil. (Felipe Dana, AP)

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Rio de Janeiro - Police investigators have taken samples at some of Rio de Janeiro's largest sewage treatment plants to determine whether the facilities are actually treating sewarage.

The samples from at least six plants will help authorities decide whether to bring charges against Rio's state water and sewage utility, Cedae, for allegedly dumping raw or minimally treated sewarage into the city's waterways, police investigator Marcelo Prudente said at a news conference.

Pollution problems

The plants are located near polluted lagoons in western Rio that hug the Olympic Park and on the sewarage-blighted Guanabara Bay, where Olympic sailing events are to be held. Water pollution has become a hot-button issue ahead of the August 5-21 games in Rio since an investigation revealed astronomical viral levels in the waters. Brazilian authorities had pledged to clean them up as part of the city's Olympic bid nearly nine years ago.

Prudente suggested that the investigation into Cedae preceded the AP's July 2015 report. Rio was targeted because of the highly visible and smelly nature of the problem.

The probe grew out of the "notorious public knowledge" of sewarage pollution problems in the two waterways, said Prudente, adding that testing of the samples collected at the plants would help "measure the treatment the plants may or may not be doing."

Prudente didn't provide many technical details about the testing, saying only that the results will likely take weeks. Depending on the results, both Cedae itself and its top executives could be handed pollution and larceny charges for charging consumers for sewage treatment services the utility doesn't actually provide, he said.

Floating trash

The police operation came as Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes inaugurated the revamped Gloria Marina on the Guanabara Bay where the Olympic sailing events will start.

The refurbishment costing the equivalent of $19m includes new docks, as well as restaurants intended to draw the public to what had long been a private facility. Despite the upgrade, the black waters of the marina were still dotted with floating trash and stank of raw sewage.

Paes said he has received promises from state authorities that a project aimed at staunching the flow of raw sewage into the marina would be finished by the end of next week.

Paes acknowledged the Guanabara Bay remains "a challenge for the city."

Read more on:    brazil  |  pollution

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