Not so pure mineral waters, beautiful but harmful solar storms and difficult to clear snow passes –

Pollutants in mineral waters, the controversial compensation granted to Robert Mardini by the ICRC, the concerns of the Georgian president after the adoption of a controversial law, solar storms as beautiful as they are harmful to spacecraft and the perilous snow removal from the Grand Saint-Bernard pass: these are the five choices of the week from RTSinfo.

TEST – Polluting residues in mineral waters

Mineral waters sold in Switzerland are not perfectly pure. A test carried out by the shows A Bon Entendeur and On en parole reveals the presence of plastic particles, PFAS-type pollutants and pesticides in certain widely consumed bottles. In the analyses, Henniez, Valser, Swiss Alpina and San Pellegrino contained pollutants, while Aproz, Rhäzünser, Cristallo, Evian, Saskia and Denner mineral water were “clean”.

The most striking case is that of Henniez water in which metabolites of two pesticides were detected, chloridazone and chlorothalonil. Very controversial, the latter is a fungicide used in particular in the cultivation of cereals, potatoes and vines. It was classified as a “probable carcinogen” by the European Union in 2019, which subsequently banned it. Switzerland followed suit before being blocked by appeals from Syngenta, which produces the substance.

Nestlé Waters, owner of Henniez, did not respond to RTS’s specific questions, but assures that “Henniez natural mineral water is safe to consume”. The multinational also claims to meet regulatory requirements and specifies that “the small traces of undesirable residue found in Henniez natural mineral water are similar to a drop in a 2.5 million liter Olympic swimming pool”.

>> See the A Bon Entendeur test:

Mineral waters sold in Switzerland are not always pure / A word to the wise / 8 min. / Tuesday at 8:10 p.m.

>> Read also: Chlorothalonil residues in Henniez water And “The authorized levels of pesticides in water are unrelated to the toxicological effects”

INVESTIGATION – Robert Mardini’s controversial compensation to the ICRC

The future director of the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) received nearly 300,000 francs after his voluntary departure at the end of March from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), revealed the RTS Investigation Unit. In the midst of the financial crisis, the ICRC says it has put an end to this controversial practice.

In 2021, his predecessor, Yves Daccord, received more than 300,000 francs in severance pay after twenty-five years of service. This corresponded to twelve months of salary, the maximum provided for employees who have spent more than sixteen years with the ICRC. Robert Mardini, who meets the criteria to receive maximum compensation, was in the same boat, as he confirmed to RTS.

According to the most recent data from the American tax authorities, Robert Mardini earned nearly 350,000 francs in 2022, to which were added nearly 67,500 francs in various remuneration. According to the person concerned, these amounts must be put into perspective, because they include entertainment costs, the employer’s share of the second pillar and the ICRC’s contribution to schooling costs. Thus, his basic salary amounted to 320,000 francs.

>> The Pôle investigation in La Matinale:

Robert Mardini received controversial compensation upon his departure from the ICRC / La Matinale / 4 min. / Wednesday at 07:00

>> Read also: Barely appointed to the HUG, Robert Mardini receives controversial compensation from the ICRC

INTERVIEW – The concerns of Georgian President Salomé Zourabichvili

Tensions are high in Georgia after the vote in Parliament on the very controversial law on “foreign interference”, inspired by legislation in force in Russia to repress the opposition. The text is in total contradiction with this country’s ambition to join the EU or NATO, regrets President Salomé Zourabichvili in the RTS 7:30 p.m.

Before and after the adoption of the text, demonstrations multiplied in the country. For Salomé Zourabichvili, this clearly proves the determination of the Georgian people to move closer to the European Union. “Since the war in 2008, Russia has occupied 20% of Georgian territories and this has not succeeded in changing the Georgian population from its European convictions,” she says.

“Everything can change, because we are very close to the door represented by the accession negotiations to the European Union,” also observes the head of state, whose country has officially become a candidate for entry into the European Union. European Union in December 2023. “We have just obtained candidate status and just then, for no real reason, the authorities are reproposing a law that was rejected last year,” adds the Georgian president.

>> The interview with Salomé Zourabichvili in the 7:30 p.m.:

Interview with the President of Georgia, Salomé Zourabichvili
Interview with the President of Georgia, Salomé Zourabichvili / 7:30 p.m. / 3 min. / Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

>> Also listen to the interview with Salomé Zourabichvili in Tout un monde:

“We are in a regime that is turning authoritarian”: interview with Salomé Zourabichvili, president of Georgia / Everyone / 14 min. / Thursday at 08:13

>> Read also: Controversial Georgian law “does not correspond to people’s hopes”, says president And Elected officials fighting, a “Russian law”, a lonely president: how did Georgia get here?

SPACE – Beautiful but harmful solar storms

From May 10 to 12, the Earth was hit by the biggest solar storm in more than a decade, creating a magnificent spectacle: “The Sun is a plasma and the northern lights are due to an ejection of a solar flux of particles, mainly electrons and ions”, explains astrophysicist Corinne Charbonnel, professor at the University of Geneva, in Forum.

However, solar flares are powerful bursts of energy that can impact radio communications, power grids, navigation signals and pose dangers to spacecraft and astronauts. “The main risks occur at high altitude”, notes Corinne Charbonnel: “A large part of the artificial satellites which orbit the Earth have modes which allow them to ‘batten down the hatches’ to protect the electronics from this great flux of Others do not have any and risk burning out.

As for the Hubble Space Telescope, it also suffers from the Sun’s tantrums for another reason: solar activity increases the rate of orbital decay of satellites in low orbit. At this location, these machines also collide with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere. Although tiny and at the atomic level, these impacts add up and contribute to a very slight frictional force. Over time, satellites are pulled into lower and lower orbits, causing them to experience greater atmospheric friction, causing them to disappear much more quickly.

>> The interview with Corinne Charbonnel in Forum:

A peak of solar activity at the origin of the recent northern lights: interview with Corinne Charbonnel (video)
A peak of solar activity at the origin of the recent northern lights: interview with Corinne Charbonnel (video) / Forum / 3 min. / Monday at 6:00 p.m.

>> Read also: Solar storms will increase and accelerate the decline of Hubble And “Extreme” solar storm generates northern lights, including in Switzerland

REPORT – The difficult snow removal from the Grand Saint-Bernard pass

A few weeks before the start of summer, snow plows are busy trying to clear the snow from the slopes of the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass, where in some places it still reaches eight meters high. At nearly 2,400 meters above sea level, it is a real balancing act and the task can even be dangerous, according to Claude Lattion, a snow remover interviewed in 7:30 p.m.: “In certain places, we really don’t have to no room for error.”

Experienced guides therefore support the snow plows. “You always have to think about what could happen, but also about the direction of the wind and the temperature. Firn snow like here weighs 800 or 900 kilos per cubic meter. A machine can easily be made overturn”, attests mountain guide Eric Berclaz.

And to help the machines find the bitumen, surveyors act as scouts to mark the route using GPS tools. “We could do everything in one day,” assures one of them, Christian Hagin. That said, due to seasonal avalanches and precipitation, surveyors are dependent on the progress of the machines.

>> The 7:30 p.m. report:

This winter's exceptional snowfall complicates snow removal from the Alpine passes. Report from Great Saint-Bernard
This winter’s exceptional snowfall complicates snow removal from the Alpine passes. Report from Grand-Saint-Bernard / 7:30 p.m. / 2 min. / Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

>> Read also: Perilous mission to clear snow from the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass




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