Green pools caused by hydrogen peroxide dump: Rio organizers

Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:33pm EDT
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By Brenda Goh

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The "embarrassing" emerald green water in the pools at the Rio aquatics center that left some athletes with itchy eyes is the result of an unplanned dump of hydrogen peroxide into the water, Olympic organizers said on Saturday.

A contractor added 80 liters of hydrogen peroxide to each of the diving and water polo pools last Friday but organizers said they only found out on Tuesday when the water in the diving pool turned green from its typical blue during the women's 10 meter platform final.

According to organizers, the addition of hydrogen peroxide neutralized 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."

The green pools have become a huge headache for organizers of the Rio Games, becoming the butt of "swamp" jokes among the millions of spectators in the stands and watching in 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 stabilizing the chemistry and trying to make the algae more dense to clean it up but were racing against time to avoid disrupting competition schedules.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Water Polo - Preliminary - Men's Preliminary Round - Group A Australia v Japan - Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Water turns green in the diving pool of the Aquatics Centre. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach