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Winter Olympics Won't Avoid Environmental Damage

The upcoming 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy lack sufficient environmental safeguards to prevent damage to the Southern Alps, according to the international ecological monitoring group Guard Fox Watch (GFW).

Dramatic increases in air and water pollution, disruption of wildlife, overflowing garbage and sewage facilities, and greater "greenhouse" energy wastes are some of the negative outcomes that can be expected in Turin and nearby sports venues. The effects could extend from the Po River headwaters region as far as the Adriatic Sea.

GFW investigated the Turin site in February 2003 and recommends extensive measures to avoid the shockingly poor record of previous Winter Games it witnessed at Nagano, Japan and Salt Lake City, Utah.


For better results at the 2006 Games in Turin, innovations are needed such as a Zero Waste Policy for recycling all consumer, construction and commercial wastes. There should be exclusive use of electric powered public transportation to and from venues. Highway and parking lot runoff needs to be filtered to prevent water pollution. In the crucial area of water supply for Olympic-goers, GFW urges water catchment systems to collect rain and snow melt, strict water conservation through the use of low-flow attachments for showers, sinks, and toilets, and re-use of "grey" water for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets.

President Valentino Costellani of the Turin Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (TOROC) stated, "The primary purpose ... is the realization of works and infrastructures for the Games that will
respect, and potentially even improve, the environment of the area." But the vague guidelines proposed by TOROC aren't capable of providing the model of sustainability for future events that the organizers optimistically claim.

Unfortunately, athletes and spectators at the next Winter Olympics won't have the opportunity to enjoy the ecological benefits GFW proposes because they aren't going to be available. TOROC's recently released Environmental Report includes none of GFW's suggestions. Instead, it proposes similar methods for monitoring environmental conditions and establishing controls that were proven inadequate at
previous Winter Games. TOROC has not monitored enough environmental factors during the winter of 2004 to effectively detect and correct problems. It has failed to endorse a Zero Waste Policy that will handle increases in garbage and sewage. TOROC also seriously underestimates the crowd size at events that are highly popular in neighboring European countries, claiming that attendance will not exceed the usual number of recreation seekers at that time of year.

A comparison of TOROC policies in major areas and GFW recommendations follows:


COMPARISON OF ENVIRONMENTAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2006 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES IN TURIN, ITALY

TOROC AND GUARD FOX WATCH

1. WATER

TOROC

Safeguard drinking water and minimize impact on environment by monitoring in stages. The Water Plan guarantees to respect the objective of protecting the entire water system, in particular, ensuring Minimal Vital Flow in these sections of rivers where water is extracted for artificial snow making facilities.

GFW

Develop Watershed Planning Units for bioregion.

Develop rooftop and open area catchment systems to collect snow and rain water at all athlete facilities, sports venues, hotels, restaurants and other services.

Water conservation including low-flow toilets, showers and sinks at all sports facilities venues and hotels, restaurants, and other services.

Installation of water reuse systems including dual plumbing for pure and water reuse at all athlete facilities, sports venues and hotels, restaurants and other services.

2. TERRITORY AND LANDSCAPE (INERT MATERIALS PLAN)

TOROC

Guarantee an overall positive environmental balance. Evaluate the excavations of inert materials (earth and rock) to favor maximum re-use. Consider all options for recovering inert materials at building sites, separating earth and rock and complete environmental rehabilitation of affected areas. Ensure proper integration of construction projects, assess landscape from field research and reduce impact of planned construction.

          GFW

        Thorough environmental monitoring throughout the           bioregion during winter periods in 2004 - 2007 to establish baselines and measure changes in:

  1. Native plant and animal populations for a wide and representative spectrum of species.
  2. Air quality.
  3. Water availability, use and pollution.
  4. Garbage loads.
  5. Sewage loads.
  6. Natural habitat area.
  7. Ecosystem condition.
  8. Energy production and use.
  9. Soil removal and disruption.

3. ROADS AND TRANSPORTS (SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT PLAN)

TOROC

Manage and limit mobility problems caused by construction projects of Olympic Games and other major projects in Turin. Regulate and limit mobility problems on roads, road safety, railways, construction and projects in urban areas. Regulate and limit mobility problems caused by major new attractions and limit accessibility during Olympic Games. The main objective is to ensure that the local population suffers a minimum level of discomfort and satisfy the needs of the Olympic Family.

GFW

Only public conveyances using renewable energy for all transportation of athletes and spectators to sports venues.

Snow removal by non-chemical means.

Channel road and parking area water runoff through monitoring and decontamination filters.

No new roads, railways, or airport expansion.

4. GARBAGE

TOROC

TOROC has a strategic plan that needs to be coordinated with other public entities. First with Turin to reduce the amount of garbage and expand recycling. Italian law has imposed garbage reduction through recycling to be realized on a national level in the near and far future.

GFW

Zero Waste Policy at all Olympic athlete facilities, sports venues, and spectator services to recycle all waste and refuse.

5. ENERGY

TOROC

Direct the purchase of goods and services towards improved environmental performance and minimized consumption of resources. Guidelines based on the most preferable environmental characteristics. Use criteria including Eco-labels or certified management systems defined by recent European and international standards. Favor suppliers and products that comply with the largest number of identified criteria. Make full use of potential tourist population to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. Apply, in new construction, the best practices starting at the design stages, using bio-climatic techniques which also have potential for high return on investment. Encourage wider use of environmental management tools such as European Eco-labels for tourist accommodation services. Construction of new power lines isnít foreseen as the existent network is able to sustain the necessary load. Italian law has already forecasted specific grants in favor of alternative energy development in the private sector. The road network capacity will limit the tourist load to an already determined attendance level.

GFW

Renewable sources of heat, transportation and electric energy at all athlete facilities, sports venues, and spectator services.

Comprehensive plan for energy reduction throughout bioregion.

 

6. OLYMPIC AND MEDIA VILLAGES

TOROC

TOROC has developed specific guidelines for design to ensure compliance with fundamental requirements that aim to specify energy efficiency of building design, construction and operation, characterized by extensive use of bio-architectural techniques and solutions for rational energy use.

 

GFW

Sustainability Guidelines for Construction and Operation

 

  1. Recycled and locally available materials.
  2. Built-in snow and rain water catchment systems.
  3. Built-in heating and cooling structural features.
  4. Renewable energy powered electricity generating facilities.
  5. Electricity conservation features.
  6. Water re-use systems.
  7. Waste recycling systems.
  8. Biological human sewage treatment.

 

7. CABLES AND LIFTS

 

TOROC

The mountain areas of the Olympic Games have a wide ski lift network. Construction is essentially toward modernization of few existent ski-lifts and a limited system enlargement. Parking lots are of two kinds, already existing and temporary parking that will be removed at the end of the Games.

GFW

Total natural environment inventories around existing and newly constructed sites.

Strict environmental guidelines for lifts: minimum space and no paving, noise and night-lighting reduced to minimum.

Transportation to and from lifts restricted to public conveyances.

New lift facilities removed after Games.

Complete plant and animal restoration after Games using only native plants and species.


NEWS RELEASE CONTACT: 
Peter Berg                                     Giuseppe Moretti
Planet Drum Foundation                   Rete Bioregionale Italiana
March 1, 2004 PO Box 31251             Strada Digagnola 24
San Francisco CA 94131                    46020 Portiolo (MN)
USA                                                Italia
(415)285-6556                                  Tel: 0376/611265
mail@planetdrum.org                        morettig@iol.it


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