Investigations into micro-algae found at beaches continue

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VERA INVESTIGATION: El Playazo beach, temporarily closed in June after swimmers became ill.

THE regional government will continue to investigate the micro-algae found at Vera and Cuevas del Almanzora beaches last June.

Opposition parties, experts in marine biology and environment-protection groups are unconvinced by the Junta’s explanations for the episode that closed El Playazo in Vera and Villaricos and Quitapellejos beaches in Cuevas on June 23. The closures came after health centres realised that the growing number of patients who complained of coughs and rashes had all been swimming at one of these beaches. Analysis revealed that they were affected by ostreopsis, microscopic algae found in marine and freshwater environments. Extreme cases can require hospitalisation but none of the Vera or Cuevas cases were serious and the beaches reopened shortly afterwards.

The regional government claimed at the time that the presence of the micro-algae was a natural phenomenon. Ongoing investigations have not been able to pin down how or why the algae reached the Vera and Cuevas beaches although similar incidents have occurred in recent years on other parts of the Mediterranean coast.

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Experts believe that weather conditions, sea temperature and currents all played a part, said Jose Fiscal who heads the Junta’s Environment department. He was adamant that the algae were not the result of spills from the Villaricos wastewater treatment or the nearby Deretil pharmaceuticals factory as Opposition politicians have claimed.

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