[public-health] ENVIRONMENT GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE : ALGAE : TOXIC CHEMICALS : MEDICAL: CONDITIONS : PUBLIC HEALTH : WATER POLLUTION: ‘A Government-Sponsored Disaster’: Florida Asks For Federal Help With Toxic Algae

 

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ENVIRONMENT GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE :

ALGAE :

TOXIC CHEMICALS :

MEDICAL: CONDITIONS :

PUBLIC HEALTH :

WATER POLLUTION:

‘A Government-Sponsored Disaster’:
Florida Asks For Federal Help With Toxic Algae

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‘A Government-Sponsored Disaster’:
Florida Asks For Federal Help With Toxic Algae

July 9, 2016  1:00 PM ET

GREG ALLEN

NPR

http://www.npr.org/2016/07/09/485367388/a-government-
sponsored-disaster-florida-asks-for-federal-help-with-toxic-algae

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/h36p7z7

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About a hundred miles north of Miami on the Atlantic Coast, the town of Stuart is a picturesque waterfront community  with homes, restaurants and parks overlooking the St. Lucie Estuary. But in many areas now, when you approach the water, the first thing you notice is the smell.

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“There’s no way to describe it,” says John Skinner, a boat salesman in Stuart.

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But he still tries. “I would say hundreds of dead animals that have been baking in the sun for weeks.”

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The cause of the foul smell is a massive algae bloom that has affected beaches and fishing in communities along the St. Lucie River. The blue-green algae is especially worrisome because it can be toxic and harmful to people and animals that come into contact with it.

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In Stuart, Skinner says a thick layer of the blue-green algae began accumulating on the water in the marina last month. It’s now a couple of inches thick in some areas  a greenish muck that coats the docks and the boats. He says the muck is hurting his sales.

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“I have people that have bought boats and don’t want to put it in the water,” Skinner says. “And people who don’t want to buy a boat because it’s disgusting in there. They don’t want to put it in. It stains the boats, it smells horrible and it’s toxic.”

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It’s called blue-green algae, but it’s actually a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria. It typically thrives in freshwater. Under certain conditions, the bacteria can release a wide variety of toxins that affect the liver and nervous system.

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And blue-green algae occurs naturally. But Mike Conner of the environmental advocacy group Bullsugar.org says there’s little natural about this case. “This is a man-made  this is a government-sponsored disaster,” he says.

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In Ed Fielding’s view, this is a natural disaster, but one that also involves politics. “We watched the algae come down the locks into the St. Lucie,” he says.

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Fielding is a member of the Martin County Commission, which includes Stuart and surrounding communities. The bloom of blue-green algae first showed up months ago in Lake Okeechobee, which occupies part of the county. It’s the country’s second-largest freshwater lake and a catch basin for central and South Florida.

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Fearful that the algae bloom could spread, Fielding says the commission asked the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that controls the lake, not to release lake water east into the St. Lucie River. Citing public safety, the Corps decided to release the water anyway.

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“We are one of the exit valves, the safety valves for when the lake builds up to high levels,” Fielding explains. “It was an enormously unusual wet year. The lake can build up six times faster that we’re able to release.”

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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Sincerely,
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