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Waste water / Águas residuais



Resíduos tóxicos resultantes da operação de extração de petróleo de plataformas marítimas seriam despejados sem nenhum tipo de tratamento, diz Polícia Federal


Plataforma P-18, da Petrobras: as investigações mostraram que a Petrobras é “leviana” no tratamento de resíduos da extração petroleira. (Fotografia: Andre Valentim / EXAME)

Rio de Janeiro – A Polícia Federal (PF) acusa a Petrobras de despejar no oceano toneladas de resíduos tóxicos resultantes da operação de extração de petróleo de plataformas marítimas sem nenhum tipo de tratamento. Inquérito da Divisão de Crimes Ambientais da PF no Rio concluiu que a empresa não respeita a legislação sobre o tratamento e o descarte da água tóxica – chamada de “água de produção” ou “água negra” -, que se mistura ao óleo prospectado nas unidades marítimas de produção.

Para o delegado Fábio Scliar, responsável pelo inquérito, as investigações mostraram que a Petrobras é “leviana” no tratamento de resíduos da extração petroleira. A fiscalização a cargo do Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (Ibama) é ineficaz, segundo a PF. Na avaliação do delegado, os danos ambientais provocados pelo descarte irregular da água de produção nas plataformas de petróleo “é 300 vezes maior” do que os impactos resultantes do vazamento de óleo do Campo de Frade, da empresa americana Chevron, na Bacia de Campos, no ano passado.

“O impacto é 300 vezes maior do que o vazamento da Chevron no ano passado. O negócio vem desde que há exploração de petróleo no Brasil”, afirmou Scliar. “Essa água negra é descartada há décadas no oceano sem o tratamento adequado. E não há fiscalização qualquer. Isso é um segredo nacional de décadas”, disse o chefe da Divisão de Crimes Ambientais.

Mistura

A água negra é uma mistura de água do mar com óleo, graxa e inúmeras substâncias tóxicas, como os metais pesados bário, berílio, cádmio, cobre, ferro, e até radioativas, como estrôncio-90 e bismuto-214, entre outros. O caso foi revelado em reportagem publicada nesta quinta-feira (6) no site da Revista Época. De acordo com as investigações da PF, a Petrobras informou que 99% da água de produção extraída junto com o petróleo são tratadas nas próprias plataformas marítimas. O inquérito ressalta, no entanto, que nem todas essas unidades contam com estações de tratamento. Segundo a PF, apenas 29 das 110 plataformas têm capacidade de limpar o líquido tóxico antes de seu retorno ao mar.

O 1% restante da água negra segue para refinarias da Petrobras, onde também deveria receber tratamento. Segundo a PF, isso não acontece. A unidades de tratamento estão desativadas. O líquido tóxico é embarcado em navios da empresa, “onde, sem tratamento algum, serão despejadas em alto mar”, afirma o inquérito enviado pelo delegado Scliar à Procuradoria da República em São João de Meriti há dois meses.

Investigação

As investigações começaram há 10 meses. A PF realizou operações para apurar suspeita de descarte de poluentes da Refinaria de Duque de Caxias (Reduc), a quarta maior da Petrobras, diretamente nas águas do Rio Iguaçu e na vegetação da região. Em todas foram confirmadas irregularidades. A Petrobras foi multada, segundo a PF, e se comprometeu a erguer até 2017 uma nova unidade de tratamento de resíduos.

No andamento da investigação, no entanto, servidores públicos responsáveis pela fiscalização ineficiente da empresa comentaram com os agentes federais que pior do que os descartes de poluentes pela Reduc era o derrame da água de produção nas plataformas e refinarias. “Uma inconfidência de um servidor público da área de meio ambiente sobre o problema da água de formação nos chamou a atenção. Como aquilo não era o meu alvo no momento, eu captei e fiquei quieto. Depois que eu resolvi a questão da Reduc, resolvi investigar essa história”, disse o delegado Scliar. “Acabei desvendando essa história, que, para mim, é um absurdo. É uma política absurda. Uma enganação ao povo brasileiro”, afirmou o delegado federal.

O inquérito já está no Ministério Público Federal, que deve denunciar por crime de poluição pelo menos dois gerentes da empresa pelas irregularidades constatadas na Reduc. Outro inquérito civil está em andamento para responsabilizar, e multar, a Petrobrás. O procurador Renato Machado informou que vai enviar cópias de toda a documentação do caso para a Procuradoria-Geral da República (PGR) em Brasília, onde será definida a abertura de novos inquéritos para apurar o despejo de água de produção nas plataformas marítimas espalhadas pelo País.

Outro lado

Em nota enviada pela assessoria de imprensa, a Petrobras informou que atende a todos os requisitos da legislação ambiental brasileira e internacional. “A água produzida junto com o petróleo nas plataformas é tratada e descartada de acordo com a legislação brasileira, que é tão rigorosa quanto nos EUA e na Europa. Nas plataformas onde não há sistema de tratamento, a água é enviada para outras plataformas ou outras instalações para destinação adequada”, informa o texto.

Os descartes de água, segundo a nota, atendem a resoluções do Conama e a Convenção da Organização Marítima Internacional (IMO). “Também na Refinaria Duque de Caxias, todos os efluentes são tratados. O descarte respeita a legislação brasileira. A reportagem (da Época) reproduz as citações dos profissionais da Petrobras de forma parcial e descontextualizada”, diz o texto da empresa.

Também por nota, a assessoria do Ibama informou que “exige de todas as empresas petrolíferas o estrito cumprimento da legislação ambiental, incluindo os padrões de descarte de água de produção estabelecidos pela Resolução Conama nº 393/07”. O instituto diz que realizou 90 autuações referentes ao descarte de água de produção fora das especificações do Conama, aplicando essas sanções a diversas empresas petrolíferas, e que conta com 80 analistas ambientais especializados para função.

Autor: Alfredo Junqueira
Fonte: Exame
Original: http://goo.gl/N365D


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WHEN AUSTRALIA SUFFERED through the drought of the last decade, there were fears we’d run out of water. As year after year registered below average rainfall, people began to talk seriously about recycling our sewage to use as drinking water.


Water pours from a floodgate at Wivenhoe Dam

Ironically, it is the massive floods that we experienced after the drought that could be the strongest argument yet for using recycled water. In fact, if Brisbane had not backed away from a scheme to drink its recycled sewage, we may not have seen the rising waters that devastated our third largest city in January 2011.

There are two kinds of recycled water. ‘Indirect potable reuse’ or IPR uses advanced water treatment processes such as reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation, before discharging the recycled water back into a river, reservoir, or underground prior to re-harvesting it, retreating it and reusing it.

Much less talked about is ‘direct potable reuse’. DPR would do away with the return to the environment and the water would be pumped directly back into the city’s water supply system.

By the worst stages of the drought around 2007, it had become clear that some of Australia’s largest cities would need to adopt varying approaches to IPR in order to make full use of available water supplies. Major IPR schemes have since been partially developed in Queensland and Western Australia.

The Western Corridor Recycled Water Project (WCRWP) was developed during 2007-2010 partially as a means to supplement drinking water supplies in Lake Wivenhoe, South East Queensland. This is the primary source of drinking water supply for Brisbane and much of the surrounding area. The WCRWP uses effluent from six wastewater treatment plants, which is then subjected to advanced water treatment at three new plants at Bundamba, Luggage Point and Gibson Island.

Some of this advanced-treated water is now used for industrial purposes, but the idea of drinking it has been postponed until storage supplies drop to below 40 per cent of capacity.

Topping up Lake Wivenhoe with highly treated recycled water seemed (at least to some, myself included) to be a great idea. But the plan to drink the recycled water has not yet gone ahead because of one word: “yuck!”

That powerful psychological response to the idea of drinking treated effluent is one of the main reasons why you don’t hear any politicians advocating DPR. They don’t believe that they can successfully sell the idea. And of course, the yuck factor is normal, so politicians, engineers and scientists all experience it too.

But the disastrous flooding of Wivenhoe Dam may change all that. Now, finding some additional spare capacity in the reservoir to hold back such enormous flood surges seems an even more important priority. Fortunately, DPR offers a solution that can achieve both outcomes at once.

Like many reservoirs, Lake Wivenhoe has two conflicting roles. On one hand, it must provide security of drinking water supply by storing as much water as possible. One the other, it must protect Brisbane from otherwise inevitable regular flooding by maintaining as much empty space as possible. To achieve this somewhat schizophrenic expectation, the reservoir is divided into two distinct components. The bottom 1,165 billion litres is kept as full as possible for drinking water supply and the top 1,450 billion litres is maintained empty for flood control.

When operating at full capacity, the WCRWP can produce around 35 per cent of the total water consumption of Brisbane and surrounding areas.

If this water was used directly as part of Brisbane’s water supply, Lake Wivenhoe could be relied upon for 35 per cent less water supply. This means that the same security of water supply could be maintained while dropping the full supply capacity of Wivenhoe by 35 per cent and thereby freeing additional space for flood mitigation. The flood mitigation capacity would be increased by around 425 billion litres, which is an increase of around 30 per cent.

In terms of water storage capacity, this new-found 425 billion litres of flood mitigation space is the same as immediately constructing a new equivalent sized reservoir, without the cost of construction and without having to relocate a single home or farm. In addition to completely avoiding the environmental impacts of new dams, it would enable less water to be captured by the dam enhancing natural flow regimes in the Brisbane River.

To put this extra storage capacity into some context, a new 425 billion litre reservoir would be the fourth largest reservoir to supply drinking water to a major city in Australia (after Warragamba in Sydney, Wivenhoe in Brisbane and Thompson in Melbourne). It would be more than 70 per cent of the total water storage capacity of Perth and twice the total storage capacity of Adelaide.

Using the existing infrastructure of the WCRWP, water would be available immediately and there would be negligible construction costs. But most importantly, the freed-up storage space will also be immediately available to help capture and control major flooding events when they occur.

With careful management, this additional storage capacity would have been sufficient to capture and contain the entire peak flow into Wivenhoe Dam that occurred between 9th and 13th January 2011. There would have been no flood in Brisbane.

With all of this in perspective, the yuck factor is starting to seem like an emotional response that we would do well to live without.

Dr Stuart Khan is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New South Wales

Author: Stuart Khan
Source: ABC Environment
Original: http://bit.ly/J1rZKF


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The Federal Government says a $3.8 million upgrade to Karratha’s wastewater recycling scheme will significantly boost supplies of recycled water.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Don Farrell, has visited Karratha to launch the upgrade, which will increase the supply of recycled water to the community by more than 150-million-litres a year.

Senator Farrell says the water will be used on the shire’s ovals and golf courses.

“Particularly ovals where you can use recycled water on quite safely and this will save water that would have otherwise …. gone to waste,” he said.

“It means we have more water for drinking purposes, which is going to be very important in Karratha as the population grows into the future.”

Source: ABC News
Original: http://bit.ly/KeShGn


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Dockweiller State Beach near LAX was among the Southern California coastal sites where pollution has improved dramatically since the 1970s, according to a USC study. (Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times / January 6, 2012)

A USC study finds that concentrations of metal contaminants have fallen as much as 400-fold, compared with research from the 1970s, at popular L.A. beaches since the Clean Water Act became law.

Metal contaminants in Southern California coastal waters have plummeted over the last four decades, according to a new study that attributes the cleaner water to 1970s environmental regulations.

The improvements are so dramatic that, in some spots, USC researchers found the levels are now comparable to those found on remote stretches of the Baja California coastline.

Researchers found a 100-fold drop in concentrations of lead and a 400-fold decline in copper and cadmium off the coast of Los Angeles County since the 1970s, even as the region’s population grew by millions.

“We were expecting them to be lower, but not that low,” said Sergio Sañudo-Wilhelmy, a USC professor of biology and earth sciences who led the research.

Researchers credit sewage treatment restrictions of the 1972 Clean Water Act and the phase-out of leaded gasoline in the 1970s and 1980s with keeping toxic metals from reaching the ocean.

For the study, scientists collected surface water samples from more than 30 sites between Point Dume and Long Beach, the same places tested for metals by a pair of UC Santa Cruz researchers in the 1970s. The samples were gathered off some of the most popular Southern California beaches — Malibu, Dockweiler and Santa Monica Bay, among them.

Though the concentration of metals is just one measure of water quality, Sañudo-Wilhelmy said, “it’s a good indicator of the health of the environment. It’s a sign that when we remove the stress from the environment, it seems to be resilient and go back to background levels within years.”

Not everywhere showed such vast improvement.

The study found that relatively high levels of metals have persisted near the outlets of the Los Angeles River and the San Gabriel River, where contaminated runoff drains into the ocean. Those findings suggest the region has significant progress to make when it comes to polluted storm water.

“The trend is positive,” Sañudo-Wilhelmy said. “Now it’s up to society to decide how much they want to spend to clean the water even more.”

Author: Tony Barboza
Original: Los Angeles Times
Source: http://lat.ms/IYtjK4


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A makeshift toilet is erected by the side of a stream in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir. Photograph: Farooq Khan/EPA

UN high-level meeting is expected to call on world leaders to support the 57 countries currently most off-track to achieve their millennium development goal targets for sanitation

Clean toilets have an important role in saving lives and boosting economic growth; that will be the message as 60 finance and development ministers gather in Washington on Friday at a high-level meeting on sanitation and water.

Their aim is to agree on urgent action towards ensuring that access to sanitation and safe drinking water becomes a reality for the billions of people lacking such basic services.

The Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) meeting, convened by Anthony Lake, executive director of the UN children’s fund Unicef, follows an announcement in March by Unicef and the World Health Organisation that the world had met the millennium development goal (MDG) overall target for access to safe drinking water in 2010, but that 783 million people were still missing out.

The UN report also said that the target for access to improved sanitation – calling for 75% of the world to be covered – will not be met by 2015. At current rates of progress, the target would not be reached until 2026, making the target for sanitation one of the MDGs that is most off-track. Around 2.5 billion people still lack basic sanitation, the report said.

The NGO WaterAid said most developing countries are seriously off-track and, unless urgent action is taken, sub-Sahara will not meet the target for more than 150 years.

“This lack of basic facilities to hygienically dispose of human faeces is the primary cause of diarrhoeal diseases, which kill thousands of children around the world every single day,” said WaterAid.

The high-level meeting before the weekend World Bank spring meetings is expected to call on world leaders to keep their promises and to support the 57 countries currently most off-track to achieve their MDG targets for sanitation. WaterAid estimates that if these countries achieve their MDG targets for sanitation by 2015, at least 400,000 additional children’s lives would be saved.

In addition to saving lives, research on the economics of sanitation and water indicates that no other single intervention brings greater public health returns; that the annual economic impact of poor sanitation is more than 5-6% of GDP in some countries, including costs related to premature deaths, as well as losses in industry, tourism and health-related productivity. A 2011 World Bank study, for example, shows that India alone loses $53.8bn annually due to poor sanitation and hygiene.

A UN inter-agency report earlier this month said developing countries suffer from a chronic lack of technicians and staff to operate and maintain sanitation and drinking water infrastructure, and called for additional and more targeted resources to maintain routine operations of existing systems and services.

Aid commitments for water and sanitation rose from $7.5bn in 2008 to $7.8bn in 2010, a 3.2% increase. Aid commitments to sanitation and drinking water, however, lag behind aid for most social sectors, reflecting its low status when it comes to development. Education aid, for example, reached 13.3bn in 2010, while aid for health was $19.5bn.

“Sanitation is the big taboo in international development. Diarrhoeal disease is the biggest killer of children in Africa. At current rates of progress, we won’t reach the MDG for sanitation on the continent for over two centuries. This meeting is a huge opportunity for finance ministers and donors to address a major neglect in aid policy,” said Henry Northover, head of policy at WaterAid. “We need a doubling of aid spend to increase the numbers of people getting access to safe water and sanitation. This must to go hand in hand with strengthening government capacity so that aid money gets turned into sustainable services. Access to water and sanitation is indispensable for human development and reaching all the MDGs.”

Author: Mark Tran
Source: The Guardian
Original: http://bit.ly/JlYEVd


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Almost hidden in the northern hills, the pilot water treatment plant here does not seem a harbinger of revolution. It cost $13 million, uses long-established technologies and produces a million gallons a day.


Purified water flowed from the tap at a treatment facility in San Diego. The city, which once rejected the approach in the face of public opposition, is now using some treated wastewater. (Photography: Donald Miralle for The New York Times)

But the plant’s very existence is a triumph over one of the most stubborn problems facing the nation’s water managers: if they make clean drinking water from wastewater, will the yuck factor keep people from accepting it?

With climate change threatening to diminish water supplies in the fast-growing Southwest, more cities are considering the potential of reclaimed water. A new report from the National Academy of Sciences said that if coastal communities used advanced treatment procedures on the effluent that is now sent out to sea, it could increase the amount of municipal water available by as much as 27 percent.

San Diego’s success, 12 years after its City Council recoiled from the toilet-to-tap concept, offers a blueprint for other districts considering wastewater reuse.

For most of the four decades beginning in 1970, the arid West was the fastest-growing region in the country; the population of Nevada quintupled in that period while Arizona’s nearly quadrupled. Continued population growth, unmatched by growth in water storage capacity, makes this a “new era in water management in the United States,” the science group’s report said.

“The pressures on water supplies are changing virtually every aspect of municipal, industrial, and agricultural water practice,” it said.

Back in 1998, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, issued a study finding that supplementing stream flows or reservoirs with this water, a process called indirect potable reuse, was acceptable, although only as a last resort. Now, acceptance of reclaimed water for drinking is spreading, if slowly.

Funneling reclaimed water into water supplies is being considered in a variety of communities like Miami and Denver (which has experimented with the technology), as well as in drought-ravaged municipalities in Texas like Big Spring. The tiny mountain resort town of Cloudcroft, N.M., mingles reclaimed water with local well water. In Northern Virginia, reclaimed water has flowed into the Occoquan Reservoir for three decades.

Still, just one-tenth of 1 percent of municipal wastewater nationally was recycled into local supplies in 2010. Only a handful of systems replenish their reservoirs or groundwater basins with treated wastewater.

The largest is in Orange County, Calif., about 100 miles north of San Diego, where a four-year-old system replenishes the groundwater basin with 70 million gallons of treated effluent daily — about 20 percent of the content of the aquifer. Other sites include El Paso and some areas around Los Angeles.

Edmund Archuleta, the president of El Paso Water Utilities, said in an interview that his city recycled all of its wastewater. Most is used for things like cooling industrial plants or watering playing fields, he said, but “it’s been accepted that we’re recharging some of that water into the aquifer” and into the Rio Grande.

Globally, the largest population center to adopt the technology is Singapore, home to five million people. Officials say about 15 percent of its water originates from treated effluent, marketed as “NEWater.” Most is used for irrigation or manufacturing; some for drinking.

The original technology for recycling wastewater was developed in the 1950s — involving chemical disinfection, carbon-filtration treatment or both — and is in use on the International Space Station. The bulk of recycled water is used on lawns or golf courses, in factories or as an underground barrier against seawater intrusion.

The newest iteration, in use in Orange County, is a three-step process involving fewer chemicals and more filtering.

First, wastewater is filtered through string-like microfibers with holes smaller than bacteria and protozoa. Then it goes through reverse osmosis, an energy-intensive process forcing the water through plastic membranes that remove most molecules that are not water. Finally, it is dosed with hydrogen peroxide and exposed to ultraviolet light, a double-disinfectant process. The result is roughly equivalent to distilled water, Orange County officials say.

After touring the $481 million plant in Orange County, visitors are offered a glass of the water. Is it safe? The new National Academy analysis suggests that the risk from potable reuse “does not appear to be any higher, and may be orders of magnitude lower” than any risk from conventional treatment. There are currently no national standards for water reuse processes, only for drinking-water quality.

Of course, the treatment process is much more expensive than tapping local groundwater — in Southern California, about 60 percent more, and in El Paso about four times more. But to remain sustainable, groundwater must be used sparingly. Orange County’s reclaimed water costs $1.80 per thousand gallons when regional water subsidies are factored in. This is similar to what it pays to import either Colorado River water or water from Northern California. Without the benefit of subsidies, reclaimed water’s cost was just 14 percent less than desalinated water’s, which experts say requires 3 to 10 times the energy output.

The bigger hurdle to public acceptance may be psychological. Carol Nemeroff, a psychologist at the University of Southern Maine, said the notion of treated sewage “hooks into the intuitive concept of contagion” and contamination. To overcome this, she said, a city must “unhook the current water from its history.” That proved to be the case in 1998 in San Diego when the water department’s initiative was derided as “toilet to tap” during a bruising City Council campaign. Council members refused to allow further discussion of it.

A 2004 poll commissioned by the San Diego County Water Authority found that 63 percent of respondents opposed reuse. Then the water department began reaching out to customers with discussion groups and public meetings. Members of the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group, reminded residents that almost every municipal wastewater plant practices water reuse anyway, since discharged treated wastewater is reused downstream.

“It isn’t toilet to tap. It’s toilet to treatment to treatment to treatment to tap,” said Belinda Smith, a Surfrider volunteer.

Water shortages and rationing, however, did the most to change attitudes. San Diego’s annual rainfall meets about 15 percent of its needs, and the city’s water managers grew worried that as California reeled from droughts, they could have trouble importing water.

In 2009, the third year of a severe drought, Mayor Jerry Sanders met with biotechnology industry executives who told him that water shortages posed a threat to their businesses. “They were talking about moving away from San Diego,” he said.

So the mayor quietly switched sides, and the City Council fell into line. “If science is behind you and you can prove that, I think people are willing to listen,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “The public is worried about scarcity.”

Marsi Steirer, the deputy director of San Diego’s public utility agency, said it now estimated that by 2020 or so, recycled wastewater could account for 7 percent of the total in the city’s main reservoir.

Some people are still put off. Virginia Soderberg, 91, president of the Convair Garden Club in San Diego, called reclaimed water “the end of the world. I wouldn’t even want my cat to drink it.”

But a 2011 poll by the utility showed that local opposition to reuse had dropped to 25 percent.

The change of heart found voice on the editorial page of The San Diego Union-Tribune, a onetime opponent, in an editorial titled “The Yuck Factor: Get Over It.”

That sentiment was echoed in a cartoon on a California public radio blog depicting a dog with its nose in a toilet.

The caption? “Ten million dogs can’t be wrong.”

Author: Felicity Barringer
Source: The New York Times
Original: http://nyti.ms/AqTnIf


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Residentes de uma cidade no sul da China correram para comprar água potável depois que níveis excessivos de cádmio carcinogênico foram encontrados na fonte de um rio que abastece o local, relatou a mídia estatal nesta quinta-feira, no mais recente escândalo de saúde a atingir o país.

A poluição dos córregos por resíduos tóxicos de fábricas e fazendas é um problema grave na China, levando as autoridades a clamar por políticas que exijam a eliminação da poluição por metais pesados, embora o problema não mostre sinais de estar sendo solucionado.

Os níveis de cádmio no rio Longjiang, na região autônoma de Guangxi Zhuang, chegaram a três vezes o limite oficial na quarta-feira, afirma a agência estatal de notícias Xinhua, apontando como responsável uma mineradora.

Níveis excessivos de cádmio foram detectados no último domingo, disse a agência, acrescentando que as autoridades injetaram no rio 80 toneladas de cloreto de alumínio, um agente neutralizante, em uma tentativa de eliminar o fator de risco.

A China fechou uma indústria química na província central de Hunan em 2009 depois que os moradores protestaram contra a poluição de cádmio, que matou duas pessoas e afetou centenas de outras.

Apesar das promessas frequentes de Pequim de reduzir a poluição, autoridades locais com frequência colocam o crescimento econômico, a renda e a criação de empregos acima das preocupações ambientais.

Fonte: Folha / Reuters
Original: http://bit.ly/z5huAl


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