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July 02, 2008
by Ryan Hudson
That picture was taken on Monday, and it shows the coastline of Qingdao, a town in the Shandong province in China, that sits on the Yellow Sea. It shows local residents helping to clean away a recent swell of algae. Now, guess where the Olympic sailing regatta is going to be held in about a month's time? If you guessed "the area where all the algae is," you win
Local officials have initiated an all-out effort to clean up the algae by mid-July. Media reports estimate that as many as 20,000 people have either volunteered or been ordered to participate in the operation, while 1,000 boats are scooping algae out of the Yellow Sea. The official news agency, Xinhua, reported that algae currently covered a third of the coastal waters designated for the Olympic races.
Apparently, the quality of the water in China for the sailing events was a concern before the algae explosion, mainly because a majority of the coastal cities "dump untreated sewage into the sea." However, this most recent influx is the result of a lot of rain and warm temperatures. The solution? "[T]he government [will] attempt to block algae from floating into the Olympic sailing area by installing a fenced perimeter in the sea that is more than 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, long."
A 30-mile long fence in the middle of the ocean? Air quality so poor that China has banned about 300,000 high-emission cars from driving?
The 2008 Olympics: catch the fever (just figuratively, please).