DIRTY BIRTIE - The river Thames is one of the filthiest in the world according to a BBC report from July 2020. The Thames has always been a disgusting river, killing almost everyone from an overturned boat, when they tried to swim to the banks. That event promoted sewage controls, but man made materials in our modern society have got out of hand, with no built in management. We need to get to grips with plastic - and pretty damn quick.






Almost all plastic waste entering the ocean comes from rivers. Ninety percent 90% comes from just ten of the filthiest waterways in the world. But there are thousands more rivers contributing to a continuous stream of micro fibers, mostly from man made fibres used in clothing. Much of the work on microplastics has been carried out in seas and oceans rather than rivers. As there is no large scale cleanup of the plastic swirling in the gyres, and no filtration machines capable of dealing with micro plastics (since SeaVax & RiverVax projects died from lack of funding in 2020), we should be trying to turn off the plastic tap at source.


The River Thames has some of the highest recorded levels of microplastics for any river in the world. Scientists have estimated that 94,000 microplastics per second flow down the river in places.

Fibres from washing machine outflows and potentially from sewage outfalls, plus fragments from the breakup of larger plastics, such as packaging items and bottles, which are washed into the river.

By comparison, the Thames has higher quantities of microplastics than levels recorded in the Rhine in Germany, the Danube in Romania, the River Po in Italy and the Chicago River in the US. However, levels appear lower than those reported for China's Yangzte river.


After the Second World War, humans were finally given the right to life internationally and legally, via the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, brought into being by the United Nations members as signatories. This came about because of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and others countries during hostilities, ending with the US dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the mass taking of life by nuclear weapons.

Plastic holds the potential to take more lives than during WWI and WWII. We aver that other marine animals also have the right to life, and should not have to become endangered to protect them from humans. We also offer that humans should be protected from ingesting poisons as a result of the folly of policy makers, who appear to want to take us to the brink of extinction before putting in place appropriate safety mechanisms.

Surely, prevention is better than cure?

For this reason we believe that it is expedient to enact laws most urgently, to be recognized internationally by a majority of UN member nations - and therefore propose a 'Plastic Free Oceans Treaty' in draft form, for consideration of the Members, to protect us from a system that is seriously flawed, hoping to create a moral world, less influenced by capitalist institutions, and more driven by sustainable ideals aimed at preventing unnecessary suffering.



1. Supermarket packaging transformation (back) to paper predominantly
2. Glass bottles, metal cans, waxed cartons over plastic, unless genuinely biodegradable 
3. Monitoring rivers and strict enforcement against micro-fiber spillages from treatment plants
4. Trackers for fishing nets and strict enforcement for dumping, unless accidents reported
5. Recycling of plastic to 90% with controlled incineration of non-reusable elements
6. Filtration on domestic machines to remove microfibres from clothing
7. Introduction of a plastic credit (incentives) trading scheme to drive the clean up






An unseen stream of plastic rubbish flowing along the bed of the river Thames and out into the North Sea will have far-reaching effects on marine life, a new report indicates.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum and Royal Holloway, University of London, collected rubbish over a three-month period at the end of 2012 from seven locations along the river bed of the upper Thames estuary, between Crossness and Broadness Point.

The team netted 8,490 items including plastic cigarette packaging, food wrapping and cups that may have been blown or washed into the river down storm drains. More than 20% of waste was made up of sanitary products such as pads and plastic backing strips, which had most likely been flushed straight down the toilet. The full extent of the unseen waste could be far worse, the study warned, as plastic bags and other large items may have escaped the small nets used in the study.

The two most contaminated sites were in the vicinity of sewage treatment works at Crossness and Littlebrook, the report found, and could indicate that plants were not filtering out larger waste, or were letting sewage overflow when heavy rains created extra waste.





The report said the data represented only a snapshot, and as such it was difficult to estimate the volume of litter that was actually entering the North Sea this way. But scientists said the figures highlighted an underestimated problem.

"This underwater litter must be taken into account when estimating the amount of pollution entering our rivers and seas, not just those items that we can see at the surface and washed up onshore," said Dr Dave Morritt, senior lecturer in marine biology at Royal Holloway, University of London and co-author of Plastic in the Thames: A River Runs Through It, published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. "The potential impacts this could have for wildlife are far-reaching: not only are the species that live in and around rivers affected, but also those in seas that rivers feed into."

The team was originally conducting a trial of different types of "fyke nets" – a type of trap anchored to the river bed – that would allow invasive Chinese mitten crabs to be harvested while allowing endangered eels to escape. But they spent so long clearing plastic rubbish from the nets that they thought this alone merited further study.

The report also warned that larger pieces of plastic are being continuously rolled backwards and forwards by the estuary's tidal movements and broken down into smaller and smaller "microplastic" fragments that are easily ingested by birds, fish and smaller species such as crabs.

This follows a study in December that highlighted the potential impact on ocean ecosystems when species at the base of the food chain ingest microplastics. Lugworms, starfish, sea cucumbers and fiddler crabs all act as prey for birds and fish, transporting the tiny fragments up the food chain. A second study found evidence that potentially harmful chemicals including hydrocarbons, antimicrobials and flame retardants were leaching from the ingested plastic into the digestive systems of such species.

Dr Paul Clark, a researcher at the Natural History Museum and co-author of the study, said: "Plastic can have a damaging impact on underwater life. Large pieces can trap animals but smaller pieces can be inadvertently eaten. The toxic chemicals they contain, in high doses, could harm the health of wildlife."

The findings are the latest evidence that plastic pollution is having as big an impact on freshwater environments as the seas.

The issue of plastic pollution in the ocean environment – where as much as 80% of litter is plastic – has become more high-profile in recent years, with widely documented instances of fish and bird entanglement, ingestion and suffocation and the growing Great Pacific and North Atlantic garbage patches.

But there has been less attention focused on the issue of plastics flowing down major rivers, with only a handful of prominent studies to date looking at the impact on catchments and watersheds.

In October this year a study published in the journal Current Biology found that lake Garda, one of the famous Italian lakes, contained as many microplastic particles as in marine beach sediments. And in 2012 it was found that plastic pollutants circulate in pockets of America's Great Lakes at concentrations higher than any other body of water on Earth.







Let us not forget that in the fight against ocean pollution, it is the pollution from rivers that is discharged into the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Oceans that is potentially the most harmful is left unchecked. Hence, the most wanted list of river authorities who need to think hard on cleaning up their act as the starting point for cleaner oceans:


1. Citarum River, Indonesia - The Citarum River is known as the most polluted river in the world and is located in West Java, Indonesia.


2. Ganges River, India - The Ganges River is considered the most sacred river in India by the Hindus. It is the third largest river in the world and it is believed that its water can cleanse the sins of people.


3. Mantanza-Riachuelo River, Argentina - The river is located in the Buenos Aires Province of central-eastern Argentina and is more than 60 kms long. The river is also known as Slaughterhouse River.


4. Buriganga River, Bangladesh - Buriganga is also known as the Old Ganges in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries around the world and is right now suffering from every kind of pollution that exists.


5. Yamuna River, India - The river is crystal clear and blue near its source in the Himalayas but as the river flows down the water becomes extremely polluted with sewage, industrial garbage, agricultural run- off etc.


6. Jordan River, Israel - The Jordan River originates from the Anti-Lebanon and Mount Hermon mountain ranges covers a distance of 223 km. The river has severely deteriorated especially the lower reaches of Jordan are full of untreated sewage and contaminated water flowing from agricultural lands.


7. Yellow River, China - The Yellow River of China is drying up fast due to expansion of factories, cities, agricultural farms etc. and whatever water is left is contaminated badly. The water is so toxic that it is not fit for agriculture.


8. Marilao River, Philippines - The Marilao River flows through the Bulacan Province Philippines and empties in Manila Bay. The main sources for polluting this river are tanneries, textile factories, piggeries, gold refineries and municipal dumps.


9. Sarno River, Italy - The Sarno River is one of the most polluted rivers in Europe. It flows in southern Italy near Pompeii and Naples. In recent years many cases of liver cancer have been reported which shows the level of degradation of the river.


10. Mississippi River, USA - The Mississippi River in USA is also known as the ‘Big Muddy’ as the water of this river is usually brown because of pollution. Crude oil spills reported in the river which has made the water toxic and is poisonous to the marine life. The river is a sewer for farmers and industrialists making it one of the most polluted rivers in the world.


11. Cuyahoga River, USA - The Cuyahoga River flows through Cleveland, Ohio and is known for having caught fire many times. The river is completely choked with oil, sludge, sewage and debris.


12. Pasig River, Philippines - The Pasig river is a 27 km long river in Philippines which passes from west of Laguna de Bay and moves downstream to east of Manila Bay. This river is termed biologically dead.



HUGE HYDRAULICS - You can see part of the mechanical workings of the Thames Barrier in the picture above. In the photograph below witness the enormous power of a body of water trying to achieve equilibrium.







The only significant advantage to using SeaVax as a platform to develop a river cleaning solution, is that the vessel is powered by over 80kW of energy harvested from nature. This is important, because if the craft can be converted to clean effluent and metals from river water (not on the agenda at the moment, but we are willing to undertake studies if properly underpinned) whatever assistance that may provide is sustainable in energy terms, in a circular economy.


The most obvious hurdle in defining any kind of assistance to the beleaguered nations in this case is: How do you treat a billion liters of water divided into hundreds of locations. It looks as though the problem is insurmountable. But is it?


1. The first thing is to consider is to deploy several dozen ocean dustcarts to deal with surface litter that would otherwise find its way into the open ocean and feed the 5 main Gyres. This is not only doable but a must.


2. The second is to decide whether to deploy SeaVax oil spill boats to rivers that are known to be oil toxic.


3. The third is to undertake a feasibility study as to the possibility of modifying SeaVax units to deal with industrial waste and sewage at selected points of discharge. The issue here is likely to be volume where sedimentation tanks would need to be voluminous and SeaVax is a mobile solution. If deployed at known discharge points, that may negate the volume issue to some extent.




PROOF OF CONCEPT MILL & SINGLE STAGE FILTRATION - In this photograph you can see the experimental motorised mill head and hydro-cyclonic filtration chambers of the SeaVax test boat under construction. The full size version of this is 14 metres (44 feet) wide and includes two more stages of filtration that we cannot show here due to patent laws prohibiting publication before grant. This unit showed us what was possible and what to develop next. Nobody else anywhere in the world is developing such a system.














London's Thames barrier, flood protection defence system

THAMES BARRIER - The river flood barrier that protects London from tidal surges is in effect a series of giant valves weighing some 3,300 tons each. The spool valve second from the left is seen in the closed position. The others are open for river navigation. How effective they might be is yet to be seen - where they do take some time to bring into operation all at once.






Wikipedia Bay_of_Bengal

Wikipedia Indian_Oil_Corporation

IB Times India million litres untreated sewage polluting holy river ganga says report

Inspired Economist 2015/01/14 India uses zero liquid discharge technology for Ganges river

Haaretz Israel Ganga pollution news science

Central Pollution Control Board of India

listaka top 12 most polluted rivers in the world

Hubpages politics what are the 10 Most Polluted Rivers in the World

Listdose top 10 polluted rivers world

Austro Indonesian Arts Program blog most polluted river in the world Citarum

The Guardian environment 2014 January 2 plastic waste river Thames marine life report

News BBC England London River Thames skimmers September 2007







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