Green pools caused by hydrogen peroxide dump - Rio organisers

Green pools caused by hydrogen peroxide dump - Rio organizers

9:35 AM, 17th August 2016
Green pools caused by hydrogen peroxide dump - Rio organisers
The water in the Rio Olympics diving pool was bright green on Tuesday, baffling competitors in the women's synchronised event, who said they could not see their partner underwater. © Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO, US: The emerald green water in the pools at the Rio Olympics aquatics centre that left some athletes with itchy eyes is the result of an unplanned dump of hydrogen peroxide into the water, Olympic organizers said.

A contractor added 80 litres of hydrogen peroxide to each of the diving and water polo pools on the opening ceremony but organizers said they only found it out after a week when the water in the diving pool turned green from its typical blue during the women's 10-metre platform final.

According to organizers, the addition of hydrogen peroxide neutralised the chlorine and allowed algae to bloom.

"This is a way of cleaning swimming pools but you're not supposed to combine it with chlorine," Gustavo Nascimento, Rio 2016's director of venue management, told reporters.

"We were not consulted; our contractor's failure is our failure," he added

The green pools have become a huge headache for organizers of the Rio Games, becoming the jokes among the millions of spectators in the stands and watching television. Some water polo players have complained about itchy eyes.

The electronic monitoring system for the pools at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center was functioning but was fooled by the chemical reaction to think that the chlorine was still working, Nascimento said. The fact that 120 athletes were using the diving pool also increased the amount of "organics" in the water, he added.

To treat the water, which organizers said does not pose any risk to athletes, they have been stabilising the chemistry and trying to make the algae denser to clean it up but were racing against time to avoid disrupting competition schedules.

Nascimento said 10 hours will be spent draining and replacing the water in the pool that will be used for the synchronised swimming event, where competitors need to see each other under water.

The organizers will keep the water in the diving pool and continue treatment, as it did not seem to concern the athletes as much, they said.

"When the water's too murky you can't see the bottom of the pool so it affects your target point when you're doing your turns in the air," China's Shi Tingmao said after placing first women's 3 metres springboard semi-finals. "So it has some impact but it's not a big problem."

American Abby Johnston, who also qualified for the final, said her "chemistry brain was going 'what?'" when told about the hydrogen peroxide dump.

"But it's a fun thing for all of us divers to stand up there and talk about. We're all in this together," she added.

© Reuters News

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