07/01/2008, 00.00
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In Qindao, Olympic regatta threatened by algae invasion

More than 10,000 workers are fighting around the clock to clean the surrounding area. More than 100,000 tonnes of algae have already been removed, but the situation is still serious (see the photo in the article). China has been invaded by algae for years, especially in rivers and lakes, and a fourth of the population lacks sources of drinking water.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More than 10,000 workers and thousands of volunteers have been fighting for days, with bulldozers, bare hands, and more than 1,000 boats, to clear away the algae from 13,000 square kilometres of the basin of Qingdao, where the Olympic sailing regatta is scheduled to take place.  More than 100,000 tons of algae have already been removed, while efforts are under way to prevent more from coming into the basin, with the installation of barriers and the cleaning of the mouth of the Yellow River.

The intention is to restore the area - equal to about one-third of the area set aside for the regatta, which begins on August 9 - by July 15.  Many of the competitors have already arrived to start training.  The algae appeared about a month ago, fed by the results of excessive pollution, and is so dense that it is even interfering with swimming. Wang Shulian, vice director of the local ocean and fishing bureau, nevertheless says that the presence of the algae does not necessarily indicate problems of pollution or poor water quality.

China has been invaded by algae for years, especially in its inland waterways, as a consequence of substances released by industrial pollution, the extensive use of nitrates in agriculture, and urban waste.  About one-fourth of the population lacks sources of drinking water, and the government's efforts to improve the situation have so far produced no results.

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