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Sargassum barriers that are being installed in Quintana Roo. Sargassum barriers that are being installed in Quintana Roo.

First sargassum diversion barrier is now in place near Cancún

27 kilometers of the floating barrier system to be installed as far as Chetumal

The first section of a floating sargassum barrier has been installed at Punta Nizuc near Cancún, where it is intended to prevent the seaweed from arriving on shore.

Goimar Logística y Servicios reported late yesterday afternoon on the advances made in the barrier project, which will install the system on 27 kilometers of Quintana Roo coastline from Cancún to Chetumal.

The floating barriers are a modification of those used to contain oil spills, and are anchored to the seabed.

Large quantities of sargassum have washed up on Quintana Roo beaches over the past three months, threatening tourism and leading to warnings that the mass arrival of seaweed could trigger a serious environmental disaster and a health crisis.

The Quintana Roo government plans to install a total of seven containment booms off the coast to stop the stinky, brown seaweed from sullying the state’s beaches.

Beaches in tourist hotspots Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum are among those to benefit.

Environment Secretary Alfredo Arellano said the state government has arranged to rent four machines to remove sargassum, which could arrive from Florida as soon as this weekend.

“We’re not going to buy the machines because their cost ranges between 4 and 13 million pesos [US $208,000 to $678,000], they will be rented. It’s estimated that the entire cost of the operation to remove and contain the sargassum will be 240 million pesos [US $12.5 million],” he said.

Other removal vessels are on order but are not expected to arrive until November.

The environment secretary explained that the state government has already spent 62 million pesos (US $3.2 million) that federal authorities made available to combat the sargassum problem.

“. . . We are now operating with 20 million pesos that the state government has provided,” Arellano said, adding that Quintana Roo authorities are seeking further federal resources.

“. . . The state governor has declared the sargassum issue a priority and allocated 240 million pesos [to it] and we’re requesting support of 218 million pesos from the federal government. The combined amount will allow us to do the barrier [project] and also make the sargassum vessel deal.”

Source: Milenio (sp), Noticaribe (sp)

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