July 3, 2008

Algae Cleaning Continues in Olympic Sailing City

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

So far, 170,000 tonnes of the sea weed have been taken out of the water, and the Qingdao municipal government said it planned to have it all 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 kilometres of water to be used for the Olympic sailing event.

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

Qingdao City is using 30,000 metres of meshwork to stop more algae from floating into the Olympic venue.

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, which showed the nutrients content in the sea water continues to decrease and the water quality was fit for sailing competitions.

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

"The algae is of various sorts, which will prosper if the temperature and salinity of sea water is right", said Wang.

However, the algae has covered part of the training area and sometimes blocked the sailing routes and affected the preparation for the sailing teams for the upcoming Olympics Games.

Sailors from at least 30 countries and regions are training in Qingdao for the Games, which will open on August 8.

Qingdao is a coastal Olympic co-host city in east China's Shandong Province. Sailing events will be held here from Aug. 9 to 23.