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China Still Battling Green Sea of Algae

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China Still Battling Green Sea of Algae

In China's Olympic co-host city Qingdao, a full one third of the sea is covered by a massive algae bloom that locals fear will harm the city's bucolic image during the Games.

"If we don't clean this up, we're done for," said local businessman Zhang Longfei, pointing at a blanket of green weed stretching far out to sea at Qingdao's No. 3 Bathing Beach.


"You think tourists and Games visitors want to see this?" Zhang said, taking a break after lugging a sack full of green weed onto a growing pile offshore.

Zhang is one of an army of troops, marine officials and common volunteers battling to clean Qingdao's shores as the host city for Olympic sailing events enters peak tourist season and puts the final touches on Games preparations.

Local authorities say 30,000 people and have now been drafted into the cause, and have drawn a line in the sand demanding that the algae, which invaded Qingdao in mid-June, be completely expunged from sailing competition areas by July 15.

On beaches usually packed with sun-seeking Chinese tourists, khaki-clad troops and sweaty volunteers strive to shift mounds of green weed washed in by the tide.

The epic battle is winnable, officials insist, at least within the confines of the sailing competition area, currently being reinforced with 32 km (20 miles) of marine fencing.

"I'm absolutely confident that our government can take effective measures to clean, not only the venue area, but also protect the beautiful beaches, Yuan Zhiping, assistant to the president of the Qingdao Sailing Committee, told Reuters.

Raw sewage goes into the bay, but the Chinese only point the finger to the warm weather for the monster algae bloom.

Sailing events are scheduled to start on Aug. 9.


Copyright 2008

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