China Olympic City Battles “Invading” Algae

Chinese officials and thousands of volunteers are still struggling to clean up the thick, green algae that has floated into the Olympic sailing competition waters. Officials claim that the algae is naturally-occurring, but some volunteers point to factory pollution as the source of the algae blooms. From Reuters:

In China’s Olympic co-host city Qingdao, sea breezes that usually bring relief from baking summer temperatures now bring a cloying stench from a massive that locals fear will harm the city’s bucolic image during the Games.

“If we don’t clean this up, we’re done for,” said local businessman Zhang Longfei, pointing at a blanket of green weed stretching far out to sea at Qingdao’s No. 3 Bathing Beach.

“You think tourists and Games visitors want to see this?” Zhang said, taking a break after lugging a sack full of green weed onto a growing pile offshore.

Local authorities say 30,000 people and have now been drafted into the cause, and have drawn a line in the sand demanding that the algae, which invaded Qingdao in mid-June, be completely expunged from sailing competition areas by July 15.

Xinhua’s latest coverage reports that the algae bloom is shrinking, will be cleaned up before the Olympic competitions, and will not pollute drinking water:

The thick algae that invaded the sea off Qingdao city in east China’s Shandong Province will not affect the Olympic sailing event to be hosted in the coastal city, said oceanographical experts on Sunday.

Coverage of the algae, namely enteromorpha prolifera, is shrinking and its photosynthesis ability, a key factor for its growth rate, has been reduced to one-fifth as that at the beginning of June, said Zhou Mingjiang, a research fellow with the Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

More than 130,000 soldiers and volunteers have cleared nearly 50 tons of algae from water. Currently, coverage of algae in the 49.48-square-kilometer sailing event venue was reduced to 0.156 square kilometers.

The Sydney Morning Herald has posted a 9-photo slideshow showing the extent of the algae spread:


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