Toxic algae poses environment problem
Environmental authorities are taking steps to deal with the possible reappearance of blue-green algae, which first showed up on the Qiantang River in July.
Factories releasing waste water have been closed or stopped production, said Xu Luzhong, director of the Pollution Control Division of the Zhejiang Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau.
"The situation of the Qiantang River has been under control and the waters there reach set standards," said Xu.
The Qiantang River suffered from wild growing algae for the first time in history between July and August, Xu said.
With the coming of Typhoon Rananim in August, which cooled down the high temperatures and brought strong rainfall, the algae disappeared, Xu said.
The algae there is mainly caused by waste water released from chemical factories and nearby households, Xu said.
For example, the Zhejiang Mifeng Monosodium Glutamate Group released a high volume of ammonia and nitrogen in the water, resulting in the outbreak of the algae in the Qiantang River.
Moreover, a combination of high summer temperatures and reduced water flow from the upper reaches of the river also contributed to the pollution of the water system as the pollutants water could not be diluted as usual, Xu added.
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, has been described by ecologists as water cancer. It reproduces rapidly during hot weather and contains too many nutrients, causing severe water pollution.
To find a practical and long-term cure, authorities will not approve new projects without examination and approval from the environmental department, said Huang Yong, spokesman for the Zhejiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission.
If a project results in a group complaint for environmental problems, no approval will be given until the environmental case is solved, Huang said.
Statistics show that 3,751 companies have received administrative punishment for environmental problems, 458 of which were forced to shut down and 1,402 stopped running from May to November this year in Zhejiang Province.
"Whether the blue-green algae will reappear next year is still unknown," said Xu, adding that the causes of the blue-green algae are complex and hard to predict.
However, an expert at the Zhejiang Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau, who declined to be named, pointed out that the blue-green algae will reappear next summer if waste water input is not brought under control.
The algae is common to closed lakes or half-closed lakes such as the Taihu Lake in East China, and it sometimes makes water appear green in colour and form a blue-green scum on the surface of the water, he said.
The blooms also produce a foul smell and toxins that may kill pets and other animals and even are associated with liver and other cancers, the expert said.