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Toxic slime on beaches ‘killed teen oysterman’

Green tide: The algae invades Valais Beach in Saint-Brieuc PICTURE: GETTY

TOXIC slime that closed six beaches in northern France this summer may have killed a young oyster farmer.

The 18-year-old worker died in July in the Bay of Morlaix, Brittany, and groups Safeguard Trégor and Stop Green Algae say the slime is to blame.

With a smell of rotten eggs, it releases hydrogen sulphide gases that can cause loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest.

Prosecutors have ordered an inquest into the oysterman’s death.

The so-called ‘killer slime’ is thought to be linked to fertilisers containing nitrates. Activist André Ollivro, 74, claims that on parts of the Saint-Brieuc coast hydrogen sulphide levels in the air are 1,000 parts per million, enough to kill an adult in minutes.

In July, the family of a man who died in the sludge at the Gouessant estuary in 2016 launched a lawsuit against local authorities. Jean-René Auffray, 50, was found in the algae when he did not return after a run. A verdict was never reached on the cause of death.

The area where he was discovered had seen the deaths of 30 wild boar in 2011, with links to the slime suspected.

Brittany’s deputy head of environment Thierry Burlot said just five per cent of its 1,677 miles of coastline is affected by the algae and collections of the green sludge fell from 30,000 tons in 2004 to 10,000 tons last year.