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Illicit substance waste: The devastating pollutant impacting river life

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This common, yet controversial action by festival-goers could have damaging consequences on the environment, especially river life.

Substance use at festivals detrimentally impact the environment, especially river life.

High levels of illegal drugs have been found in a river running through Britain’s Glastonbury music festival site, endangering a rare species of fish and other wildlife.

Scientists are concerned about high levels of cocaine and MDMA, which could be harming wildlife downstream in the Whitelake River that runs through the festival grounds.

It follows over 200-thousand people taking part in the five-day summer festival, which takes place in southwest England.

Experts are urging festival-goers to use official toilets because it is believed the drugs enter the surrounding water sources through public urination.

Repeating the past

This is not the first time the river has fell victim to overexposure from illicit substances, with the festival’s last occurrence triggering a similar result.

Dan Aberg a masters student studying science at Bangor University, worked alongside Dr Daniel Chaplin from the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB) to measure the similar damage in 2019.

The pair took samples from both upstream and downstream ends of the Whitelake River and found that MDMA concentrations quadrupled the week after the festival, with the same outcome expected for this year’s instance.

The life cycle of eels residing in the river were also impacted due to high cocaine concentrations.

“The level of release is unknown, but festivals undoubtedly are an annual source of illicit drug release,” Aberg says.

“Unfortunately, Glastonbury Festival’s close proximity to a river results in any drugs released by festival attendees having little time to degrade in the soil before entering the fragile freshwater ecosystem.”

From their findings, the pair are calling for environmentally-friendly research to take place to find a method to minimise the impact illicit drugs have on the environment.

A call for better messaging

Dr Christian Dunn, from Bangor University is also asking for more messaging to be displayed at events to remind festival-goers about the impacts public urination has on the environment.

“Education is essential for environmental issues, just as people have been made aware of the problems of plastic pollution, and Glastonbury have made great efforts to become plastic-free,” Dr Dunn says.

“We also need to raise awareness around drug and pharmaceutical waste – it is a hidden, worryingly-understudied yet potentially devastating pollutant.”

Glastonbury Festival is open to working alongside the researchers to combat the issue, a spokesperson for the festival says.

“We are aware that the biggest threat to our waterways – and the wildlife for which they provide a habitat – comes from festivalgoers urinating on the land.

“We are keen to see full details of this new research, and would be very happy to work with the researchers to understand their results and recommendations.”

Written by Rebecca Borg

Ukraine Crisis

Zelensky addresses the U.N. as protests break out in Russia

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Zelensky addresses the U.N. as protests over Putin’s mobilisation plan break out in Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Zelensky says his nation just wants peace and believes Russia should be punished and ostracised for its actions.

“A crime has been committed against Ukraine and we demand just punishment. The crime was committed against our state borders. The crime was committed against the lives of our people,” Zelensky said. “Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory”.

In the powerful speech, the Ukrainian President also called for Russia to lose its U.N. veto power. Russia is currently one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

He is also seeking more military aid, pleading for more weapons to help liberate his country’s land.

Protests engulf major Russia cities

In Russia, police have arrested hundreds of protestors who are rallying against Vladimir Putin’s military mobilisation.

Human rights group OVD Info estimates more than 1,000 people have been taken into custody so far. The largest number of arrests were made in St Petersburg and Moscow.

As the Kremlin announced its intention to call up thousands of extra troops to fight the warn in Ukraine, flights departing Russia sold out almost immediately.

The mobilisation will likely see at least 300,000 military reservists drafted to bolster Russia’s forces.

In Moscow, the prosecutor’s office is warning that calls on the internet to join protests, or participation in these protests, could result in up to 15 years in jail time.

Russia’s disinformation laws about the war have made public demonstrations rare.

In his first national televised address since the war began, Putin said he will use “all available means” to protect Russian territory.

In theory, this could include nuclear weapons.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance remains vigilant.

“We will make sure that there is no misunderstanding in Moscow about exactly how we will react. Of course it depends upon what kind of situation or what kind or weapons they may use. The most important thing is to prevent that from happening and that is why we have been so clear in our communications with Russia about the unprecedented consequences,” Stoltenberg said.

Meanwhile, Putin’s mobilisation follows weeks of heavy losses for Russia in Ukraine, with Kyiv recapturing a huge area just east of Kharkiv.

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Ukraine Crisis

U.S. to provide Ukraine with tanks in the future

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U.S. to provide Ukraine with tanks in the future, but there is a catch

The U.S. will provide tanks to Ukraine in the future, but issues with maintenance and training may delay the rollout.

Ukraine has received billions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment, allowing the war-torn nation to defend itself against Putin’s regime.

Russian forces are continuing to “conduct airstrikes that are impacting civilian infrastructure”, most recently striking a “dam near Kryvyi Rih”, according to a top U.S. official.

“This disturbing pattern which includes strikes that hit power stations last week continues to show Russian forces’ disregard for civilian life,” the official added.

When it comes to further military aid, the offical confirmed tanks are “absolutely on the table”, but are not an option for the immediate battle.

Once training, maintenance and sustainment issues are addressed, the roll out is more likely.

This follows verified reports Ukraine has successfully shot down 55 Russian
fighter jets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed there would be no let-up in fighting to regain
territory lost to Russia.

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Ukraine Crisis

Mass burial site discovered in Ukraine

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A mass grave with over 400 bodies has been found in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region

The price of war is beginning to reveal itself in Ukraine as a mass grave, with over 400 bodies has been discovered in the recently liberated Kharkiv region.

The burial site was found in the city of Izyum, an area captured by Russian forces at the beginning of the war, and a victim to ultimate brutality.

Over recent days, Ukrainian forces have recaptured the area. So far, they have discovered over 1000 bodies in the city, with this number rising every day.

The mass grave site shows the extent of Russia’s atrocities, although Russia denies responsibility.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is launching an investigation and says “Russia leaves death everywhere and it must be held accountable for that.”

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