Category Archives: Pollution

Raw sewage released into UK waterways increases by 2,553% over five years

Rivers of Sh*t: the amount of harmful crap being pumped into our rivers and seas has multiplied by 2,553 per cent.

A friend on the social media asked how private water companies could have pumped raw sewage into our seas and rivers for more than nine million hours since 2016 when that’s the equivalent of 1,076 years.

The answer, in fact, is quite simple: each company has many outflows into the UK’s waterways, and they have been pumping away industrially.

The amount of raw sewage going into our rivers and seas has increased by 2,553 per cent over the last five years.

No wonder the information had to be dragged out of the Environment Agency by the Labour Party, via the Freedom of Information Act!

I’m reminded of the advertising campaign for the movie Jaws 2, containing what may be horror’s greatest tagline:

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.”

Sadly, nobody has thought it was safe to go in the water since the government voted to allow the water companies to pump all their crap – literally – into UK waterways.

Who knew the threat wouldn’t come from a dangerous creature but from an industry that’s supposed to keep us safe?

Source: ‘It’s filthy and it stinks’: Huge increase in raw sewage released into waterways and sea, data reveals

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Was Tory crackdown on protest really prompted by this oil-funded think tank?

Targeted: Extinction Rebellion members – here protesting at a Murdoch print works – were briefly defined as an extremist group. Although they have now been removed from the list, Home Secretary Priti Patel has continued to refer to climate protesters as “criminals”.

A Tory crackdown on legal political protest was devised by a right-wing think tank that is funded by the US fossil fuel corporation ExxonMobil, it has been alleged.

And it is easy to see the reason: it removes the right of ordinary citizens to protest against the climate-wrecking policies followed by the oil industry.

According to Open Democracy,

Policy Exchange explicitly said the government should pass legislation to target Extinction Rebellion (XR) in a 2019 report that got the attention of Tory MPs and peers.

The report called for protest laws to be “urgently reformed in order to strengthen the ability of police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass law-breaking tactics”.

Sections of Priti Patel’s controversial policing bill, which became the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, appear directly inspired by the Policy Exchange report.

The Policy Exchange report that appears to have contained the seeds of the policing bill was later cited in the House of Commons by Tory MP Steve Baker, who urged ministers to read it, and in the Lords by Tory peer Matt Ridley. Baker is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic group that has received money from groups with oil interests in the US. Ridley is a member of the group’s academic advisory council.

Patel said openly that the legislation was intended to stop tactics used by Extinction Rebellion. The home secretary first pledged to introduce the bill just over a year after the Policy Exchange report was published.

Policy Exchange does not disclose its donors, but openDemocracy has uncovered that ExxonMobil Corporation donated $30,000 to its American fundraising arm in 2017.

There is much more information on the Open Democracy site (link below).

Circumstantial evidence?

Maybe – but then it isn’t likely that the Conservative Party, Policy Exchange and ExxonMobil are ever going to admit conspiring to silence legitimate political protest.

Source: Policy Exchange: Was oil-funded think tank behind anti-XR policing bill? | openDemocracy

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Here’s how you can defend your local river. Or do you LIKE swimming in sewage?

Rivers of Shit: under Boris Johnson’s Conservative leadership, this could be happening to all the rivers near you – indefinitely. Are you really willing to accept that?

Will YOU defend your local rivers from being engulfed in an ever-increasing tide of sewage dumped by the privatised water companies who simply don’t want to clean it?

Are are you just the kind of person who complains from an armchair but is scared to put your head above the parapet when push comes to shove?

If you’re a Vox Political reader, This Writer reckons you’re probably brave enough to take action – and it’s needed now.

Today (Monday, November 8), the government under Boris ‘Rivers of Sh*t’ Johnson is planning to reverse a Lords amendment to its Environment Bill in the latest instalment in a game of Parliamentary ping-pong (and I do mean pong) between the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.

The Lords want to force water companies to “take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows”.

But Boris Johnson’s cheapjacks say it is too expensive – the cost could reach £150 billion, meaning an increase of thousands of pounds on our water bills.

The counter-argument is that private concerns were only allowed to take control of our water and sewage system on the understanding that they would use some of their profits to invest in improvements to the system. If that hasn’t happened, then it’s up to the water firms to find the money now – not us.

Now I’m going to hand you over to our rivers correspondent who will explain how you can help:

Personally, I’d use https://www.writetothem.com/ but the choice is yours.

Will you act?

Or do you want this to happen to your nearest river – indefinitely?

The choice is yours.

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MPs complain of ‘hate’ after complaints over vote to fill rivers with raw sewage

What do you get if you allow raw sewage to be pumped into rivers, and those rivers then flood?

Cholera.

This Writer is therefore looking forward to the BBC’s Coast special on the cholera outbreak of 2022, after Tory MPs voted en masse to allow cost-cutting water companies to keep pumping sewage into our coastal rivers.

Constituents are – justifiably – complaining. And what do you think the Tories are doing?

They are hiding behind the murder of David Amess to claim that these concerned citizens are “spreading hatred” against them.

Here’s David TC Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, accusing a constituent of just that.  I provide the constituent’s complaint so you can see that there is no reason whatever for him to have claimed what he did:

Here’s a comment on it so you can see it’s not just me kicking up a fuss:

Yes, the conned can be that stupid – especially when they don’t even know what has happened:

Fortunately, the social media are seething…

…and Mr Davies’s lie about “spreading hatred” isn’t stopping people from outing their own MPs. Here’s just a smattering:

And you are encouraged to do the same:

Here’s a handy link to the full list of MPs who supported the raw sewage motion, to help you get started:

Oh – and if you’re thinking we’re all making a big deal out of nothing, think again. Here’s our river quality correspondent:

Sadly, due to the lack of reporting (hello, BBC?) most people probably still don’t know that their rivers and beaches are poisoned, and that their homes will be – after the annual floods hit next year.

Some people are advocating stronger measures than harsh words…

It’s not advisable, really. You don’t win an argument against spreading disease by spreading disease.

In the meantime…

If you’re near the coast, you’ll be getting it anyway.

Come to think of it, the Thames flows into the sea. It’ll probably start stinking soon.

I wonder if the Tories in the Palace of Westminster will even understand that the nasty smell that’s making their taxpayer-funded dinners taste so bad is a result of their own decision?

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On eve of COP26 conference, Tories endorse dumping sewage in rivers

Here’s an angry public figure: Feargal Sharkey was the singer of The Undertones and The Assembly before having a career as a solo performer – and he is now an environmental campaigner against the pollution of British rivers. He knows his stuff.

Here’s what made the dumping possible:

The Tory government had previously given polluters the green light to dump risky sewage that has not been properly cleaned into rivers and the sea, after it turned out that Brexit had closed the UK’s borders to chemicals that are used to treat effluent.

The Environment Agency said companies struggling to get hold of the chemicals would be allowed to “discharge effluent without meeting the conditions” of their permits, which normally require water to be treated by a multi-step process.

Companies should “resume use of chemicals to treat effluent as soon as is practicable”, the agency said.

But now it seems the government has reneged on this demand. According to Evolve Politics,

Lords Amendment 45 to the Environment Bill would have placed a legal duty on water companies in England and Wales “to make improvements to their sewerage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.

Treating raw sewage costs money – and many have speculated that privatised water companies are simply dumping it into our waterways in order to make bigger profits.

Despite the horrendous environmental impact of the disgusting practice, shortly before the vote, the Conservative Environment Secretary George Eustace recommended to his fellow MPs that they should reject it.

And, owing largely to the government’s 80 seat majority, the amendment was indeed defeated – by a margin of 268 MPs to 204.

You can see how your MP voted on the amendment here.

There has been a lot of speculation about the Tories’ reasons for blocking the amendment. For example:

Others have suggested the possibility that MPs have shares in the polluting companies and hope to make a fortune on the cash saved by not cleaning the water before dumping it.

Whatever the reason, the optics (as they are known) are terrible, right before the big COP26 climate change summit.

Boris Johnson is on record as having said he wants the UK to be the “cleanest, greenest” country; instead, he’s sending his lieutenant, Alok Sharma, to host the climate conference in one of the world’s major water polluters.

If either of them try to claim the moral high ground on the environment, the hypocrisy will sink them – hopefully, beneath a wave of their own effluent.

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Boris Johnson’s Brexit legacy: Rivers of sh*t

Rivers of Shit: Boris Johnson couldn’t be bothered to think about the details of his Brexit, and now the UK is suffering shortages of materials including those used to clean sewage. So partially-cleaned and harmful crap is going directly into our rivers.

As with so many of his choices, Boris Johnson’s decision not to bother with finicky little details has let him down again.

And now his detractors – including This Site – are likening him to another Conservative Party ‘character’: Enoch Powell.

Back in the 1960s, Powell warned against wide-scale immigration with a speech named after its strongest image: Rivers of Blood.

Now, after Brexit removed the UK from the EU’s ‘free movement’ rule, it seems our borders have been closed to much more than human beings.

A shortage of chemicals that are used to treat effluent means the government has relaxed restrictions and polluters will be allowed to dump potentially harmful sewage directly into the UK’s rivers, making them dirty, dangerous, disease-ridden… Rivers of Shit.

I make no apology for the offensive word. Boris Johnson is an offensive creature and his name deserves to be linked with it.

Here’s The Independent with the story Johnson probably wishes he could flush away:

The government has given polluters the green light to dump risky sewage that has not been properly cleaned into rivers and the sea as Brexit and Covid disrupt normal water treatment.

In recent weeks some businesses have found it more difficult to get hold of water treatment chemicals because of supply chain disruption at ports blamed primarily on Britain’s departure from the EU.

The Environment Agency this week said companies struggling to get hold of the required chemicals would be allowed to “discharge effluent without meeting the conditions” of their permits, which normally require water to be treated by a multi-step process.

Companies should “resume use of chemicals to treat effluent as soon as is practicable”, the agency said. The regulatory relaxation will last until at least the end of the year, with an extension possible.

“This wasn’t on the side of the bus was it?” commented Julie Atkinson on Twitter, referring to Johnson’s controversial campaign bus in the run-up to the EU referendum, which claimed leaving the bloc would provide huge advantages to the UK.

No, it wasn’t – but it could get inside your children, or even you, if you aren’t careful.

“Welcome to Boris Johnson’s “golden age,” tweeted Peter Stefanovic – although I wonder if “golden” is the right description for the stuff being pumped into our waters as I type these words.

Kids have been known to play in rivers – I know they do, here in Mid Wales, even when they’re told not to – and the relaxation of water treatment rules means it is possible that they will ingest potentially disease-carrying waste because of Boris Johnson’s decisions.

You may hope that they won’t, or that it won’t make a difference – after all, water companies broke the rules to discharge raw sewage into UK rivers no fewer than 400,000 times last year alone. That’ll be Tory “light-touch” regulation for you!

This Writer fears it may be a forlorn hope.

If not his epitaph, it should become his nickname. His forerunner became Enoch “Rivers of Blood” Powell, after all.

So it is only right that he should be known as Boris “Rivers of Shit” Johnson.

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India’s plastic roads might be paving the way for a better UK environment

Take a look at this:

That’s right – India has been using its waste plastic to build roads that show no signs of wear and tear after years of use and are cheaper to build than those made of conventional materials.

Why aren’t we doing this in the UK?

In fact, there may be perfectly good reasons not to. I remember when the Wills cigarette factory was built in Hartcliffe, Bristol, it was an ugly block of metal squares – so the firm covered it in a special chemical that was supposed to turn a pleasant green on contact with the atmosphere.

The problem was that the atmosphere on which it had been tested was much drier than the humid south Bristol swamp. The building turned a rusty purple instead, and remained that way until it was knocked down to make way for (guess what?) a shopping centre.

It is entirely possible that an attempt to build plastic roads in the UK may suffer from similar local difficulties. But I have no evidence that any experimentation has been carried out. Wouldn’t it be a good idea at least to try?

Alternatively, this is a potential export market that we may all welcome. If we can’t build durable plastic roads ourselves (or even if we can; I’m sure there’s enough raw material to go around) we can always export our waste plastics to countries that can.

It would solve several problems at once – or so it seems to me.

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Big business turned the Atlantic into a big plastic rubbish dump – and your body, too

Microplastic ocean: thanks to big business, our seas are full of this crap.

Yes, you and I are probably full of microplastics and there is 10 times as much of the stuff in the Atlantic as previously believed.

And that’s only measuring three widely-used types of plastic!

The danger to human beings is extremely worrying; the University of Arizona examined 47 human tissue samples and found microplastics in all of them.

It isn’t yet known whether this stuff is just a nuisance or a danger to life and limb.

My instinct is to believe the worst; no doubt the instinct of the government – and its sponsors in big business – will be to discount it.

Of course, at least 21 million tonnes of this crap in the Atlantic Ocean alone – and the knowledge that it has permeated every part of the world – is terrifying enough.

It will have to go.

The question now is, who’s big enough to do the job?

The big firms that created the problem by selling it to us in the first place?

I doubt it. These layabouts are best described as overgrown babies who never got used to potty training; they make a big mess and expect someone else to come along and clean it up while they’re playing in it.

Trouble is, nobody else has the resources needed. Perhaps they need some encouragement to get involved.

If I wanted to be provocative, I’d suggest scooping a load of that crap out of the ocean and posting it to the worst offenders with a note saying it’s time they learned to wipe up behind themselves.

If you wanted to be provocative, you might give it a go…

Source: Ten times more plastic dumped in Atlantic than previously believed | The Independent

Crisp maker’s recycling concession to campaigners is like a red rag to a bull

Walkers crisp company is to be commended for launching a scheme to recycle its plastic packets – if not for the way it came about.

The firm only gave in to pressure from campaigners after Royal Mail stepped in, sick of people posting empty crisp packets back to the Leicester factory without envelopes.

Walkers reckons it had been in negotiations with recycling firm TerraCycle since the start of the year, after 38 Degrees raised a 330,000-signature petition.

But campaigners say the manufacturer still has a long way to go before it reaches its target of making all packaging fully recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.

For anti-plastic, pro-recycling campaigners, the message is clear – petition firms, by all means…

But couple this with methods that make the same firms a burden on others – like the Royal Mail – and you’ll get results.

It doesn’t strike me as the most honourable way of behaving – but we’ve seen that there is no honour in the way plastic is poisoning the planet.

Campaigners can only conclude that the rule must be: Do what works.

Snack firm Walkers has announced a recycling scheme – after Royal Mail begged campaigners not to post empty crisp packets without envelopes.

From December, snack fans will be able to post used bags – in envelopes, for free – directly to a recycling company.

The company said it had been in talks about the scheme since the beginning of the year.

It will involve packets being turned into plastic items such as benches, watering cans and plant pots by recycling firm TerraCycle.

Source: Walkers crisp packets recycling scheme announced – BBC News

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Where is the POLITICAL will to stop us all ‘Drowning in Plastic’?

The BBC broadcast a horrifying documentary yesterday on October 1, showing the extent to which waste plastic is clogging up our rivers and seas and the appalling harm being done to both plant and animal life as a result.

It represents a shocking dereliction of duty on the part of the organisations around the world that are charged with handling this material responsibly – and are ignoring that responsibility on a global scale.

I wrote a few words on Facebook and they seem to have enjoyed some popularity so I am reproducing them here:

I’m watching ‘Drowning in Plastic’, the BBC documentary about waste plastic killing wildlife in the world’s rivers and oceans. I think it’s supposed to be making me feel guilty but actually I’m angry.

We don’t get much choice about our use of plastic, or the other stuff that gets thrown into the water and forgotten. We have it foisted upon us in the packaging of the things we buy and, as a rule, we handle it in the manner that (we’re told) is responsible.

It is the people we have to trust to get rid of it responsibly who are letting everybody (and I mean everybody) down.

There needs to be some accountability here. From what I’m seeing, I’m unwillingly complicit in a crime of such enormity that my mind flinches away from considering it. And that is not acceptable.

I want to know who is responsible for this – and I notice that this information is missing from the film. I want to know what can be done to hold them to account – and if there’s no accountability at the moment, I want to know what can be done to BRING them to account. And I want to know how people like myself can participate in determining what the remedial action should be.

I bet nobody’s going to put it right in anything like a timely way unless people like us roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.

And I don’t mean by fishing this crap out of the water ourselves.

You’ll have spotted that I asked some questions that I considered pertinent: Who is responsible? What can be done to hold them to account? What can be done to bring them to account if there is no legal recourse now? And how can ordinary people participate in bringing justice to this matter?

A few people made suggestions on Facebook but I’m keen to see more. I spotted an infographic on Twitter that suggested ways we can make our opposition known – you can see it at the top of this article – but I don’t think it goes anything like far enough. I don’t think enough people will take the kind of mass, sustained action that would be necessary to make the uncaring corporates change their minds.

As one respondent stated: “Let’s all pretend it’s our personal responsibility while big corporations are raping the planet. Keep focussed on individuals that way people don’t look where the real problem lies. The idea that we can save the planet by not using plastic washing up brushes etc is naïve in the extreme.”

Another respondent voiced his suspicion: “I feel that a lot of the plastic waste floating around in the world’s oceans has come from unscrupulous shipping companies who have been contracted to transport our waste to other countries for processing and then just dump their cargo at sea, pretty much a bigger version of what some commercial vehicle owners do when offering to remove your rubbish for a fee.”

Another supported it: “Do the shipments arrive at their destinations?
Who checks they’ve got there?
With the “flagging out” of marine transportation who checks the shipping arrangements?
What if a large percentage of shipped recycling is actually just jettisoned en route and the ships then proceed somewhere else to pick up more?
How does anyone manage to find out anything more about this?”

They are good questions, especially as: “Inspectors for various things were one of the losses in the Tory’s ‘bonfire of the quangos’ that they managed to persuade everyone to applaud. We need a rebuilding of the quangos (but with a less tainted name).”

Many of you may consider this a useful solution: “I’ve started to send all my excess plastic packaging back to the customer services department of whichever supermarket it came from. Most of them have a freepost address, so you just package up all the surplus plastic and mail it to them at their expense.” But what will those corporations do with the waste?

One suggestion as a solution was, “We need a Plastics Act rather than just randomly targeting individual items.” I would agree, but I think it would need to be international rather than just operating in a single country.

Here’s another: “We need much more strict regulations from the top down, and this indeed means governments being accountable for their decisions on an environmental basis across the board. Including economic modelling to properly respect environmental concerns, the same for businesses, and right through society to farmers and consumers. In short creating a ‘fairer’ society to accommodate these interventions. The governments should be accountable to the UN and subject to harsh penalties (not piffling fines) in case of infringement. I think we should all engage with the clean up at this stage as far as possible, not because it’s the peoples’ fault per se but because it has gotten that bad. But ultimately the world’s governments need to be held to serious account for their treatment of the environment on so many levels.”

But who will impose such regulations and how will they be enforced? Should there perhaps be an independent, international organisation?

Perhaps it would be an easier argument to make if an alternative material were available? “Hemp is a really versatile material, clothes, paper, rope, soap, oil – what’s needed is a decision (and funding) taken nationally, so that manufacturers set up to make things in plastic are given compensation for refitting their factories. Major university departments study materials science, with government funding initiatives they could invent something surely.”

What about this issue? “Corporate courts are probably preventing us doing much towards polluters paying for remedial costs.”

We do recycle many plastics – or we think we do. Consider this: “All the recycling efforts we make – then strangely, recycling centres all over Britain keep going up in flames. At the end of August, from about 2 hours of google searching, I found 15 centres had caught on fire since April. That’s a lot of carcinogenic dioxins being released, – but what a convenient way of getting rid of it all, convenient for the contracters that is.” What is the story here? 

Make no mistake: This issue will magically go away if we don’t keep it on the public agenda – because governments and corporations can’t be bothered to deal with something that may reduce profits/harm the economy and don’t care if it kills a few animals and plants (they won’t accept the overarching threat to the ecosystem that the plastic poisoning of the planet represents).

So the question remains: What do you think should be done about it, and how do you propose to make it happen?

I await your contributions.

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