Federal Facility Faces Fine for Lax Security Following Daring Escape - By Algae

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | April 13, 2013 | 11:19 AM EDT

A mat of algae has staged a daring escape from a U.S. Forest Service nursery, prompting Oregon authorities to launch an investigation into lax security at the facility.

The U.S. Forest Service is appealing the $8,800 fine levied by the state of Oregon for allegedly allowing the algae to escape its reservoir.

Once free, the algae mat made its way into a nearby creek and is currently at-large. Forensic tests found no traces of algae further upstream, so its whereabouts are unknown.

The algae mat in question escaped from a reservoir at the J Herbert Stone Nursery and into Jackson Creek in Central Point, Oregon. The state's Green Police, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), issued the fine after tracing a gleaming sheet of algae in Jackson Creek.

Authorities initially believed that the algae strain was dangerous, since it could potentially reduce the oxygen supply for fish, stain rock stain, and diminish water quality. "Just releasing an algal mat reduces water quality," Oregon DEQ water-quality specialist Bill Meyers told the Mail Tribune.

Further investigation revealed that the algae mat is not a serious menace.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Forest Service has taken measures to tighten security at the J. Herbert Stone Nursery in order to prevent future breakouts.

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