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Slimy Green Beaches a Normal Sight in Florida, Toxic Algae Bloom to Stay

Jul 28, 2016 04:43 AM EDT
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For the eight time since 2004, Florida beaches are plagued by the green slime. Toxic algae bloom is becoming severe in the sunny state, that environmentalists claim it might just be the new norm. Also known as a cyanobacterium, the green algae is here to stay.

In 2013, toxic algae bloom reached severe levels that the event was dubbed the Toxic Summer. Apparently, this summer is about to be the same. Florida officials have already declared it a state of emergency for its four counties. Early this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Lee and Palm Beach Counties as well as in Martin County.

The toxic sludge, which has been described as thick as pea soup, has killed shellfish, fish, and one manatee. A number of individuals who have touched the toxic algae bloom have been plagued by sickness. The Florida Department of Health states exposure to the algae bloom may cause problems in the skin, liver, gastrointestinal system, and the nervous system.

"This is absolutely the worst," states Evan Miller, who is an environmental activist and founder of Citizens for Clean Water. "We've never seen algae so thick. You can see it from space. There are places in Stuart that are on their third and fourth cycle of blooms now."

The algae or cyanobacteria come from Lake Okeechobee, which is Florida's largest freshwater lake. It lies approximately 56 kilometers from the Atlantic Coast. According to a spokesman for the US Army Corp of Engineers Jacksonville District, John Campbell, the lake has been pumped with phosphorous and nitrogen from a multitude of sources.

"The algae outbreaks are triggered by fertilizer sewage and manure pollution that the state has failed to properly regulate. It's like adding miracle grow to the water and it triggers massive algae outbreaks," explained Alisa Coe, an Earthjustice spokeswoman.

With temperatures still on the rise, the toxic algae bloom will continue to plague Florida, and might just become a normal sight for the state.

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