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Apr 28, 2015

03:50:31 GMT--Biological Hazard - North-America - USA


EDIS Number: BH-20150428-47975-USA
Date / time: 28/04/2015 03:49:18 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Florida
Location: [Lake Okeechobee]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

Toxins have been found in a large blue-green algae bloom growing in Lake Okeechobee, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. After conducting tests on algae samples collected last week, scientists confirmed low levels of microcystin, a toxin found in blue-green algae. The bloom has grown significantly since last week, continuing to spread into the C-44 canal which eventually dumps into the St. Lucie Estuary. Toxic blue-green algae caused extensive damage to the estuary just two years ago. The Army Corps of Engineers halted lake water discharges east into the St. Lucie Estuary on Friday and announced Monday afternoon the releases would remain suspended while scientists continued conducting tests on the algae bloom. Charter boat captain Mike Conner said he fears it's only a matter of time before engineers decide to resume releases, and the algae makes its way into the estuary. "If they do, the public outcry is going to be tremendous on this one," Conner said. "You can't let water like this go into the estuary, period. Human lives are at stake." The Martin County Health Department has posted advisory signs warning people to avoid contact with the water because of blue-green algae levels. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, test results indicated a toxin level of 4.6 mg/l. At those levels, officials said adverse health impacts from short-term recreational exposures are unlikely. Testing will continue to determine if levels of toxin are increasing.

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