River Nile Is Threatened By Waste, Global Warming, Pollution
Egypt’s lifeline since Pharaonic days and the source of 97 percent of its water is under massive strain from pollution and climate change and now the threat of a colossal dam being built far upstream in Ethiopia.
No country is more reliant on the Nile than Egypt, whose teeming population has just passed 100 million people — over 90 percent of whom live along the river’s banks.
Despite its importance, the Nile is still heavily polluted in Egypt by wastewater and rubbish poured directly into it, as well as agricultural runoff and industrial waste, with consequences for biodiversity, especially fishing, and human health, experts say.
Around 150 million tonnes of industrial waste are dumped into it every year, according to the state-run Environmental Affairs Agency.
Climate change spells another threat as rising sea levels are set to push Mediterranean saltwater deep into the fertile Nile river delta, the nation’s breadbasket.
More than 3,000 kilometres (2,000 miles) upstream on the Blue Nile, the main tributary, thousands of workers have toiled for almost a decade to build the $4.5-billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, set to be Africa’s largest.
Downstream countries, mainly Egypt but also drought-plagued Sudan, fear that the dam’s 145-metre (475-foot) high wall will trap their essential water supplies once the giant reservoir, the size of London, starts being filled this summer.
Workers near Moscow began building a highway over a Soviet-era dump of radioactive material despite protests by environmental advocates who warn the activity will release toxic particles into the air.
Moscow’s mayor insists that there are only “insignificant traces of contamination” over the site. The road is the initial phase of a project to redevelop the former industrial zone in the south of the Russian capital.
But Greenpeace says a state report shows that there are at least 66,000 tons of radioactive waste from a plant there that produced thorium for nuclear reactors.