Dec 28, 2000

Olympic Organizers Meet Most Water Conservation Goals

Water conservation was among the environmental concerns for planners of Sydney's 2000 Olympic games. According to a new report just released by Greenpeace Australia, the organizers were successful with regard to most of the key water issues.

"The collection and recycling of waste water for on-site treatment and the provision of separate potable and non-potable supplies to reduce demand on Sydney’s mains water supply were good achievements," the report states. Water saving devices and techniques at the Athletes’ Village and at Olympic venues will cut water use by 30 percent.

The use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was minimized at Olympic Park. Greenpeace holds that the manufacture, use and disposal of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) produces hazardous chemicals including dioxin, which has been linked to birth defects, cancer and hormone disruption.

Generally, PVC pipe was avoided for sewer, stormwater and water mains. The Athletes’ Village reduced PVC usage by weight against standard industry practice by about 70 percent. More than one million meters of PVC-free cabling were used there. Australian made PVC-free power and light cable, Envirolex, was developed to meet Sydney’s Environmental Guidelines and used extensively in the Athletes’ Village and other Olympic venues.

On the Olympic grounds, the Olympic Coordinating Authority chose to landfill most of the waste on-site rather than to segregate and treat it. It was collected into a number of large landfill mounds that were capped and installed with drains to allow liquid runoff to go to a treatment plant on-site.

Michael Bland, the Sydney 2000 communications manager for environment, previously held the position of communications spokesperson for the Greenpeace Olympics campaign from September 1993 until August 1999. His job now is to promote Sydney's environmental achievements to Australian and international media.

While at Greenpeace, Bland played a role in formulating the environmental guidelines for the Sydney Games. The guidelines were provided to the International Olympic Committee before Sydney won the right to host the 2000 Games.

Bland says an extensive remediation program has been undertaken in the Millennium Parklands, which surrounds Olympic Park. Nine million cubic metres of waste were dealt with in an environmentally friendly manner employing waste monitoring and treatment; degraded lands have been restored and wetlands enhanced; and hundred of thousands of native shrubs, trees and grasses have been planted.

Greenpeace is satisfied with the manner in which the dioxin contaminated waste found on the Olympic site has been dealt with. A new, non-incineration remediation technology, which uses heat to separate waste from soil and chemical treatment to break down the waste, was used to treat 400 tons of dioxin contaminated waste. No toxic emissions are released as with the incineration process.

As for the waste generated by spectators and athletes, the Sydney 2000 Games aims to compost or recycle 80 percent of waste from the Games. Plates, cutlery, bin liners and bags used at the Games will be biodegradable.

SOURCE: Environmental News Service (ENS)