Thousands battle algae bloom in Olympic host city

July 4th, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Qingdao (China), July 4 (Xinhua) Thousands of soldiers and volunteers Friday in the eastern Chinese coastal city of Qingdao, where the Olympic sailing events would be held, were battling to clear a major algae bloom in the sea. More than 1,200 vessels were at sea cleaning the foul-smelling algae, and inflatable barriers were placed near the coastline to prevent the algae from encroaching on the shore.

According to an emergency headquarter set up to clean the algae, enteromorpha prolifera, said its spread in the 50 km area, where the sailing competition would be held, has been reduced from 32 percent five days ago to less than 10 percent now.

Around 110,000 soldiers and volunteers have been engaged in efforts to clear the area from algae. The algae growth was first spotted in late May.

A government figure published Wednesday showed the algae had been nearly halved since late June, but 48.8 sq km area still remained infested by algae.

On Friday, dozens of boats were at sea gathering algae. An aerial survey was delayed as rain and fog grounded the helicopters. At beaches near the sailing base, soldiers were removing piles of green algae that were dragged out of the water.

“It’s far better now than a few days ago. The water is clearer. Last week, the air around here smelt foul because of the algae. We all had to shut our windows,” said Zhang Xiaolei, whose office is near the coast.

By Thursday, about 285,000 tonnes of algae was removed from the water and seashore. Officials plan to clear the area of algae, before July 15.

Experts from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) are working to determine the source and cause of the algae outbreak.

The algae also covered parts of a facility where sailors from more than 30 countries are training. The Olympic sailing competitions are scheduled to start here Aug 9.

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