Sh*tting By the Dock of the Bay
Ten years ago, delegates attending the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro wrinkled their noses upon encountering the putrid smells emanating from the heavily polluted Guanabara Bay. The summit cast a spotlight on the plight of Rio’s bay and led to the creation of an internationally funded cleanup project. Now, with the follow-up Earth Summit beginning next week in Johannesburg, South Africa, the bay is as filthy as ever. Despite $800 million from the Inter-American Development Bank and Japan’s Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund, some 470 tons of raw sewage are still dumped into the bay every day, along with 10 tons of solid waste, five tons of oil, and an unknown amount of industrial waste. In some parts of the bay, sewage has almost entirely replaced seawater. Environmentalists accuse city officials of mismanaging the money earmarked for the cleanup, saying they have opted to spend it on voter-pleasing measures such as public swimming pools rather than on sewage-treatment plants and other cleanup efforts.