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Algae bloom not to affect sailing event in Qingdao

QINGDAO -- 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).

>People look at mounds of algae deposited along a road beside a beach in Qingdao, East China`s Shandong Province July 1, 2008. [Asianewsphoto]

"The algae will be converted into carbon, generating no toxin during the process," said Tang Qisheng, ocean-ecological expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Blue-green algae choked the eastern Taihu Lake last summer, forcing local water plants to cut drinking water supplies to 2 million residents in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province.

But Zhou Mingjiang noted that different from the blue-green algae that grew in polluted water, the algae in Qingdao only grew in clean water and would not affect people`s drinking water.

"Outbreak of enteromorpha prolifera had been reported in many countries, including Italy, France and Denmark," he said.

According to Sun Song, head of the CAS Institute of Oceanology, no obvious change was detected in terms of water quality.

"The water quality meets the need for Olympic sailing events," he said.

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 algae bloom has some impact on training of 217 athletes from 26 countries who are preparing for competition of the Olympic Games.

"The green stuff would stick on our ships and lower the speed. Meanwhile, we have to pay attention to the fishing boats cleaning the sea," said Greek athlete Iordanis Paschalidis.

But a volunteer said that most teams resumed training on Sunday and athletes generally showed understanding.

"In Italy and Argentina, we have met with similar problems. But I have never seen so many people involved in the cleaning work. Chinese government has made great efforts," said Consuelo Monsegur from Argentina.

Yuan Zhiping, assistant to the chairman of the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Committee, said that no complaints for affected training were filed and cleaning work progressed smoothly.

A 32,000-meter-long enclosure was being set up in the sea to keep algae out of the sailing event venue.

"This move is to enhance protection for the venue," said Xia Geng, mayor of Qingdao.

The algae sometimes blocked sailing routes and affected preparations for the Games. Qingdao government vowed to clear up the sailing event venue before July 15.

The sailing competitions are scheduled for August 9-23.

Date:2008-7-7 7:38:00     
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