venice grand canal turns flourescent green

Why Venice’s Grand Canal turned fluorescent green

By Region News North-east Italy

Last Sunday residents woke to find a patch of Venice’s Grand Canal was fluorescent green. A number of theories were bandied about. Officials now know what has caused the dramatic change of colour, but not how.

Last Sunday, residents noticed a stretch by the Rialto Bridge had turned a fluorescent green. The immediate suspicion fell on environmental action groups, such as Last Generation who have recently dyed the water in the Trevi fountain black. However, no group has claimed responsibility.

Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region, tweeted at the time that the government had called an urgent meeting to identify the source and that police were investigating the matter.

In 1968, Argentinian artist Nicolás García Uriburu dyed the Grand Canal green during the Venice Biennale to promote ecological consciousness. Uriburu used fluorescein to carry out the work, and it is the same substance that has been used 55 years later.

Analysis showed “the presence of fluorescein in samples taken”, according to the regional agency for environmental prevention and protection of Veneto (Arpav).

What is fluorescein?

Fluorescein is a non-toxic substance used for testing wastewater networks. As such, it does not pose a threat to the eco-system of the canal and the greater lagoon.

As mayor Zaia tweeted on Monday, [there is] “No danger of pollution from the fluorescent green patch that appeared yesterday morning in the waters of Venice, but the risk of emulation is worrying”.

“Unfortunately, Venice has become the stage for actions far beyond the lines: adequate and strong responses are needed.”

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