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tv   Black Sea Blues  BBC News  December 15, 2019 2:30pm-3:01pm GMT

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hello, this is bbc news. the headlines: the labour leader, jeremy corbyn, has apologised to supporters, for his party's heavy defeat in the general election. as boris johnson prepares for thurday‘s queen speech, the government is to enshrine in law, a commitment to raise spending on the nhs in england. nicola sturgeon has renewed her call for a second referendum on scottish independence, saying the people of scotland mustn't be kept in the union against their will. the longest united nations climate talks on record have finally ended in madrid,
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with a compromise deal, on the key question of increasing the global response to curbing carbon. a british man has been killed and his son wounded after being shot during a suspected robbery outside a five—star hotel in buenos aires. now on bbc news, the black sea is europe's most polluted, but asjonah fisher finds out, thanks to a major international clean—up effort there are now signs that the sea is starting to recover. the black sea is beautiful. it is a fantastic place, there are thousands of living species in it. some of them are very unique. in europe's south—eastern corner, there is a sea that, for decades, served as the region's dustbin. this is now a real problem, people are dying for that. fertilisers, industrial chemicals, raw sewage have flowed unchecked
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into the black sea, past tourist beaches, ruining fishing grounds. it would kill the black sea, people would not be swimming in it, fish would not be living in it. it smells like rotten eggs. but having hit rock bottom, is europe's most polluted sea finally cleaning up its act? do you think the black sea is now on its way back? to understand the black sea's problems, look inland...
2:34 pm the rivers that fill it, reaching thousands of kilometres across eastern europe. aleksandr chistya kov has been monitoring the dnieper in ukraine for years. he's showing us what's known as blooming. it's when too many nutrients get in the water, triggering a rapid, lurid green growth of algae.
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outside the cities, the run—off from fertilisers used in farming is also a big part of the problem. as is untreated waste. of course, if fertilisers and waste is dumped in the rivers, it means pollution when those rivers then flow into the black sea. three rivers provide the bulk of the black sea's pollution — the dnieper, the dnister and the longest of them all, the danube. back injune, the water quality
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reached the headlines in ukraine. a combination of rain and hot weather near odessa was turned into a nutrient rich pea soup. anything that swam in it turned green. these women work for odessa's sanitation department and test the black sea every monday. this year, they advised holidaymakers not to swim through most of the peak month of august. not that it put many people off. you're not worried the water is not clean? no.
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and when the authorities say the water is dirty, don't swim, do you stop? are you not worried that this water is polluted and it might make you sick? 1,000 kilometres away, on another very different beach, one of the black sea's most visible problems is piling up. this is batumi in georgia, a holiday boom town on the sea's far eastern edge. it's grown exponentially in the last ten years.
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but batumi has a dirty, smelly secret just one kilometre from its tourist beaches. so, this is the main rubbish dump here in batumi. obviously, it's pretty disgusting. you can see, full of animals scavenging off the rubbish, people too. the big issue for here is that it's only about 300, 400 metres from this rubbish dump to the black sea itself. and there's a waterway which basically leads all the way down there. taking the rubbish with it. having scrambled down onto the beach, we find some locals. he's caught a fish! are you going to eat them?
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are you not worried that there's a rubbish dumpjust up the road? and this water might have come from there? a few metres away on the beach, rubbish from the dump is being washed up. so, there's rubbish all along this beach, butjust to give you a sense of part of it, what it's made up of, well, there's lots of plastic bottles everywhere. that's part of a light bulb. an inhaler. some sort of plastic brush, more medicine bottles that looks like. and over here, lots and lots more plastic bottles. some sort of margarine container, a shoe... really depressing and grim
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to see it like this. because this is just a little snapshot here, but it goes all the way on in a pretty similar way to this. poor waste management and rubbish dump along rivers have turned the black sea into europe's most polluted. the latest survey shows a concentration of litter in the sea almost twice as high as in the mediterranean. for years, there was very little detailed information about the state of the black sea. copper pots. that is now changing, and we have joined a research vessel funded by the european union. packed full of scientists, its job is to travel right across the black sea, providing the data to better
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inform government decisions. long before humans began ruining the black sea, it had, thanks to its geography, a unique makeup. 89% of the total body of the black sea, it's not this beautiful, blue water with jumping dolphins here and there, but it's hydrogen sulphide, toxic, smelly chemical. so when you go down, 100, 150 metres under the surface, forget life, you know. bacteria is there. what's worrying scientists is that climate change might lead to a shift in the delicate balance between the two layers. one of the many unknowns about the black sea is how climate change and rising sea temperatures will affect the oxygenated layer at the top, and the hydrogen sulphide below that. now, this device here, well, these tanks will
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take samples of water at different depths, and the sensors beneath here, they‘ re designed to measure the temperature, the salinity and the oxygen content of the water. that allows scientists to say at what point in the water, the oxygenated layer ends and the hydrogen sulphide layer, that dead zone, begins. as the device is lowered, it sends back its readings. 0xygen minimum on this location, about 88 metres. so, the hydrogen sulphide layer starts at 88 metres here? ah...about 90 metres, yeah. what would be the impact for the black sea if the hydrogen sulphide layer rose up? it would kill the entire black sea, people would not be swimming in it,
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fish would not living in it, no plant would be growing at the bottom of the sea. at the moment, the data suggests that the oxygenated layer that supports life is getting squeezed. but there's not enough evidence yet to make firm conclusions. so, the water from the different depths is now being removed and ta ken away. it will be analysed and looked at very closely for traces of plastics, pollutants, organic matter. all helping the scientists here to get a better idea of how healthy or unhealthy that part of the black sea is. the same painstaking process is repeated at 12 different sampling sites over the course of seven days. but to get an idea of what's going on on the seabed... you need a different piece of kit. we're now at one of the
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deepest parts of the black sea, and if you want to find out what's on the bottom here, you need to use a tool like this. this is called a multi—corer. the way it works is it's sent down over the side and then it will hit the bottom and sediment from the bottom will be gathered up in those plastic tubes there and brought back up to the surface. the middle of the black sea is more than two kilometres deep, so it takes more than half an hour for it to reach the ocean floor. ok, so it's now hit the bottom. the reading is about 2,200. the muddy sludge gathered is winched back up to the boat. this sample has come right from the very bottom of the black sea, the part where there's no oxygen,
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the hydrogen sulphide layer. oh, the smell. smell is chanel. you think it's chanel? black sea chanel. it's more like rotten eggs. samples taken from the bottom at sites hundreds of kilometres from the shore have shown the extent of the black sea's contamination. micro plastics are tiny pieces of plastic which can be swallowed by marine creatures and thus get into the food chain.
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the study of micro plastics is relatively new so it's not clear yet what impact ingesting them will have on our health. to get good samples of the surface seawater, i leave the main research vessel with peter, a slovakian scientist. peter tells me he has been finding tiny traces of everyday items in the middle of the sea. stimulants like caffeine and illicit drugs, painkillers, stuff like ibuprofen and then there are compounds coming from personal care products, from shampoo and dish water detergents. that sounds horrifying. should we worry about this?
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the biggest threat is from pharmaceuticals, especially from antibiotics. the problem is the bacteria which are also here can become resistant against these antibiotics and that is the biggest problem. and that is because if there are antibiotics in the black sea that means the bacteria will develop here that will resist the antibiotics and mean that, ultimately, the medicine no longer works. this is now a real problem. people are dying because of it. because the bacteria is resistant? yes. of course. after a week at sea we left the ship, having received a bleak lesson in just how badly humans have damaged the black sea. faced with the piles of rubbish and the contamination, it would be easy to write off the black sea as beyond help. plastic bottle, plastic bottle...
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indeed, if we made this film in the 1990s we would probably have stopped here. but thanks to a concerted international effort, this is not the end. this is the river danube. it is one of europe's longest and most polluted rivers. it stretches its way almost 3,000 kilometres across south—eastern europe before emptying into the black sea. it is also a source of hope because over the last 20 years, the danube has been the subject of a massive clean—up operation. and it appears to be working. so this is basically a river of human poo. yes. if you flush the toilet in budapest in hungary, there is a good chance it will end up here.
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i would not recommend swimming in it. completed nine years ago, this is part of a water treatment revolution along the danube. backed by millions of euros of european union money. before this plant was built, around half of the produced waste water was going directly into the danube. raw sewerage. and after we had this one, after 2010, almost 95%, 96% of the sewerage is treated, biologically treated and going like this, clean, to the danube. eu membership for countries like hungary, that the danube flows through, has meant cash for treatment plants and stricter rules on what industry and agriculture can put in the river. those in charge of monitoring say it has made a real difference. the eu provides a framework where the combination of the regulatory frame
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and the transfer of the money that financial support to the new member state was one of the key factors of the improving of the situation on the danube. so this is a positive story. you are sure that the danube and, by connection, the black sea are now on their way back and the worst is over? we can be happy and satisfied with what we did in terms of reduction of pollution coming from one big river, the danube, because we do not know much about the other rivers. but definitely over the last 15 years we have witnessed improvement. the danube story is a success story of the countries transforming themselves in an better environmental management and in reaching a better environmental situation. in search of those signs of recovery, we headed off into the shallow part of the black sea, near the mouth of the danube. one of the best indicators as to whether things are getting
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better is the presence of this red seaweed, called phyllophora. large phyllophora fields were once common in this part of the black sea but as the water quality deteriorated, the seaweed fields shrunk dramatically. aleksandr is heading a0 metres down to the bottom of the black sea to look for signs that the phyllophora is indeed on its way back. his underwater camera shows lots of jellyfish. they are an indicator of poor water quality and a sign
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that there are not many predators that may eat them. if there is lots of seaweed, then there is food and shelter for small marine creatures as well. back on the surface, aleksandr gives his verdict. there they are. and what of the black sea's larger mammals like the dolphin? how many do you think there are there? how many?
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at least seven. karina, a dolphin expert, is taking part in a major survey to try and find out if their numbers are recovering. so there is a group of dolphins that keep surfacing near where we are and we are trying, there they are again, we are trying to take good pictures of their fins because dolphins have unique markings on theirfins and if we can get a good picture of the fin when it comes above the water then it is possible to track and see if it has been seen somewhere else in the black sea. and you see, the dorsal, the back fin is quite sharp. it has scars or a cut on it. so that should help you match it and see if you've seen it anywhere else before? yes. there are two species of dolphin in the black sea.
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but at the moment, no—one knows how badly they have been affected by all the pollution. though its overall condition remains grim, this is not a story without hope. the black sea does appear, thanks in part to efforts along the danube, to have turned the corner. in very, very general terms, if i could put it in one sentence is that the black sea is recovering. for those who despair that humanity is incapable of rising to the scale
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of the global environmental crisis, the black sea is an example of how, with sustained effort, a seemingly endless kind of destruction can be slowed and just, maybe, turned. good afternoon. we have had a bit of everything thrown into the weekend weather. sunshine, showers, following is a mix of rain and hail stones at low levels and sleet and snow over higher ground. this picture taken by a weather watcher in cumbria earlier today. some sunshine out there, clear skies as we head into the evening. that means there is a risk of ice around. temperatures for close to or below
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freezing, especially in the north and further showers rattling east across the uk into this evening. late sunshine across eastern england, northern and eastern parts of scotla nd england, northern and eastern parts of scotland as well, but further showers from the west, falling as snow over higher ground. temperatures between li—10d but it will feel colder, especially when you're exposed to the winds. these are the guts we will see. 45 mph around coastal areas. not as windy and land. this evening the showers will progress east. hail stones and thunder in the site. ice will be an issue across parts of northern england and southern scotland. temperatures dropping below freezing in parts of the uk. in the south, you should stay above freezing. the breeze will keep the frost away. the week ahead is unsettled, sunshine and blustery showers, wednesday will be the driest day in the week ahead.
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things are said to turn milder and windier with rain towards the end of the coming week once again. on monday morning, showers across northern ireland in western scotland, windy, and they will be following as snow over the mountains. mostly dry for england with sunshine but cloud arriving from the south—east late on. lighter winds than three the weekend. temperatures are in for —— 10 degrees. this weather front in the south—east will bring rain on tuesday morning but elsewhere, there could be fog to start tuesday. that will clear away and the area of cloud with showery rain will clear from the south—east. uncertainty about the position and timing of that rain. temperatures around 4—8d and there should be some sunshine. light winds. more rain moves in from the north and the west. turning
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u nsettled the north and the west. turning unsettled later in the week. there will be sunshine and showers, but things looking windy at times, too. goodbye.
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this is bbc news, i'm shaun ley. the headlines at 3pm: jeremy corbyn apologises for his part in labour's performance at the general election, as wigan mp, lisa nandy, becomes one of those hoping to succeed him as party leader. the reason that i'm thinking about it is because we just had the most shattering defeat where you really felt, in towns like mine, like the earth was quaking and we've watched the entire labour base just crumble beneath our feet. as boris johnson prepares for thurday‘s queen's speech, the government is to enshrine in law, a commitment to raise spending on the nhs in england. the national health service is the number one focus of this government when it comes to domestic policy. nicola sturgeon renews her call for a second referendum on scottish independence, saying the people of scotland


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