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I'm sure that like me, you'll have been dismayed, reading about and seeing the pictures this week of the clean-up operation on Mount Everest. That the world's highest mountain should become so sullied, beggars belief. I was about to ask: 'What are people thinking?' when it occurred to me that the instinct for survival is greater in most of us than will be the desire to 'leave no trace' and when one considers how many people are dying up there, I understand why climbers want to descend as easily as possible. Thus, some of the rubbish doesn't surprise me, although I daresay that the majority of it could be carried back down by descending climbers, even if it's not their own rubbish they're taking.
Speaking at a function organised to conclude this season's Everest Clean-up Campaign, Nim Dorjee Sherpa, chairman of Nepal's Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality, said that measures to control the pollution are under discussion and that a bar-code tracking system will be used to force climbers to bring back their waste as they return to base... It will be interesting to see how that one works out!
Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general at the Department of Tourism, said that the clean-up had been "very successful despite unfavourable weather", and that the team had collected more than the expected amount of waste and number of bodies. The total amounted to around 24,000lb of waste, (disgraceful, eh?) mainly comprising wrappers, cans, bottles and oxygen cylinders, as well as four bodies. Around 10 tonnes of degradable waste was passed to the 'Blue Waste to Value' company for recycling. More rubbish still needs to be removed though, as well as bodies.
That's quite a cleaning job to have, isn't it? I wonder how many cleaners there are in the world who need to also be expert climbers. Thinking about that and the item we're carrying this week about cleaning an underground science lab which simulates the surface of Mars, has had me thinking... some years back (actually it was during the last millennium!) whilst editing Cleaning & Maintenance magazine, I covered a story about the cleaning of an aquarium - I believe it may have been in Brighton - which involved the cleaners donning diving gear and taking to the tanks to carry out their work.
It strikes me that there must be an awful lot of unusual cleaning projects around the world. If you're involved in any of these, I'd love to hear about them!
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6th June 2019