Algae found at O’Brien Beach in Chelsea, Quebec

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by Mark Burgess on August 20, 2009

It could only be held off for so long in Chelsea, Quebec.

A series of hot, sunny days was all it took for cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, to bloom at Meech Lake’s O’Brien Beach, closing the public beach right before the summer’s hottest weekend.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) closed O’Brien on Aug. 14 after a bloom was spotted near the beach’s edge. It was closed all weekend and no date has been set for it to reopen.

NCC spokesperson Cedric Pelletier said the commission has sent water samples to Quebec’s environment ministry and is currently awaiting test results, following the ministry’s protocol.

“Our main concern right now is public safety,” he said.

Pelletier said the NCC does frequent water checks at all their beaches and O’Brien is the only one that raised alarms. According to the ministry’s website, O’Brien Beach is the only place in the Outaouais currently affected by blue-green algae.

“Those blooms usually get created by either warm standing water or accumulation of rain,” Pelletier said. “At this point we don’t have the exact source (of the bloom).”

Pelletier couldn’t say how long the beach would be closed.