Qingdao rush to tackle algae bloom around Olympic venue

Updated: 2008-07-03 19:40


QINGDAO  -- More than 10,000 people and 1,200 vessels have been mobilized to tackle the huge algae bloom threatening the upcoming Olympic sailing events in the sea area of east China's Qingdao.


Diggers shovel algae lying on the beaches in Qingdao, east China's Shandong province July 1, 2008. A bright green covering of algae is carpeting beaches and the local government said it would take about half a month to clean up the shoreline. [Asianewsphoto]

So far, 170,000 tons of the seaweed have been removed from the water. The municipal government said it planned to have it completely eliminated by July 15.

The algae, called enteromorpha prolifera, was first detected on May 31  off the Dagong Island, well out to sea. It currently covers one-third of the 50 square kilometers to be used for the sailing.

The Ministry of Transport on Wednesday ordered all maritime authorities nationwide to list the algae control measures in the central region of the Yellow Sea as an important task.

It mobilized resources nationwide to help Shandong Province to deal with the algae bloom. Nine provinces and municipalities have sent 18,000 meters of oil buffers, a type of marine fence, to Shandong.

Shandong officials said 32,000 meters of oil buffers were needed to cordon off the Olympic venue and prevent the inflow of more algae. Currently, the province only had 14,000 meters of buffers.

The venue was expected to be fully cordoned off on July 7.

The State Oceanic Administration (SOA), the Shandong provincial government, Qingdao City and local armed forces have set up an emergency headquarter to deal with the algae bloom.

The SOA was monitoring the route of the algae flow into the Olympic venue with current bottles. Experts dropped 80 bottles in the water around the venue after the bloom was spotted.

They concluded some seaweed was from the waters of Rizhao and Jiaonan to the south of Qingdao.

"We would only be able to quickly eliminate the algae after knowing where the seaweed comes from and how it flows in the water," a SOA expert told Xinhua.

SOA's North China Sea branch, in charge of water quality monitoring of the sailing event venue, released on Wednesday the statistics of 22 water quality monitoring stations. They showed the nutrient content in the seawater continued to decrease and the water quality was fit for sailing competitions.

Wang Shulian, Qingdao Oceanic and Fishery Department vice director, denied the outbreak had any substantial link to the environmental conditions and water quality off the city.

"The algae is of various sorts, which will prosper if the temperature and salinity of seawater is right."

However, the algae has covered parts of the training area and sometimes blocked sailing routes and affected preparations for the sailing teams for the August Games.

Sailors from at least 30 countries and regions are currently training in Qingdao for the Games that opens on August 8.

The sailing is scheduled for August 9 to 23.