AKHSHTYR, Russia – Trucks rumble to the edge of a gigantic pit filled with spray cans, tires and foam sheets and dump a stream of concrete slabs that send up a cloud of limestone dust.
Other trucks pile clay on top and a bulldozer mixes everything together in a rudimentary effort to hide the mess. This landfill outside Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympics in 100 days, is smack in the middle of a water protection zone where dumping industrial waste is banned.
As a centerpiece of its Olympic bid, Russia trumpeted a Zero Waste program that promised the cleanest games ever, saying it would refrain from dumping construction waste and rely on reusable materials. But on a visit last week to Akhshtyr, just north of Sochi, The Associated Press found that Russias state-owned rail monopoly is dumping tons of construction waste into what authorities call an illegal landfill, raising concerns of possible contamination in the water that directly supplies Sochi.
The finding shows how little Russia has done to fulfill its ambitious green pledges. Its $51 billion budget for the Olympics contains no provisions for treating construction waste.
In a letter obtained by the AP, the Environmental Protection Agency in the area where Sochi is located told the Black Sea resorts environment council in late August that it had inspected the Akhshtyr landfill and found unauthorized dumping of construction waste as well as soil from excavation works. The agency said it fined Russian Railways, whose Sochi project costs billions of dollars, $3,000 for the dumping. It didnt order the dump closed.
Team USA avoids uniform flap repeat
Team USA will now wear the Made in the USA label. Every article of clothing made by Ralph Lauren for the U.S. Winter Olympic athletes in Sochi, including their opening and closing ceremony uniforms and their Olympic Village gear, has been made by domestic craftsman and manufacturers.
During the 2012 games in London, it was a flashpoint in the media and among Washington politicians that much of the U.S. apparel was made overseas, especially in China.
Ralph Lauren Corp., which has been making most of the athletes clothes since 2008 when it took over from Canadian clothier Roots, got the message.
We have worked incredibly hard as a company to go across America to find the best partners to help us produce the Olympic uniforms at the highest quality for the best athletes in the world, said David Lauren, the companys executive vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications.
They used more than 40 vendors, from ranchers in the rural West to yarn spinners in Pennsylvania to sewers in New Yorks Garment District for the closing ceremony outfits unveiled Tuesday.
NYC protest takes aim at anti-gay law
Olympic gold medalists stood on a temporary stage in Times Square talking about training and teamwork when the chants rose up from about 50 feet away.
Homophobia has got to go! bellowed more than a dozen protesters who unveiled a rainbow banner reading, Dont Buy Putins Lies.
The U.S. Olympic Committee set up a mini ski slope in midtown Manhattan to celebrate 100 days until the Sochi Games. The public spectacle achieved its goal of attracting the attention of the throngs of passers-by. It also allowed the group Queer Nation New York to call for a U.S. boycott of the Olympics.
A recently enacted Russian law bans propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors. That raised fears of whether it could be applied to international athletes and fans – but also broader criticism that the International Olympic Committee should pressure the host country to repeal the law.