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Cleaning up toxic algae: One man's solution is gaining ground all the way to the state capital

Posted: 9:03 AM, Oct 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-24 20:49:18-04

The smell coming from thick mats of blue-green algae can be overwhelming. But a Treasure Coast man says he knows how to clean it up.

“As soon as I saw it I said I know how to get rid of this,” says Captain Wilson McQueen. He took the algae crisis of 2016 into own hands literally. 

“It overwhelmed me cause I have so many ideas on it that I built so many different prototypes.”

He built 25 to be exact. So when another crisis struck this past summer he was far ahead of the game with his latest version from his company ToxicAlgaeRemoval.com .

“This one is designed to slice the first 16th of an inch off and only take off from the surface.”

Listen to what it can remove in 8 hours. “5 truckloads 60 cubic yards that's a lot,” says McQueen.

In fact, his vacuum is gaining so much ground on the Treasure Coast it’s now being looked at in Tallahassee. The Department of Environmental Protection could select this as one of the official prototypes should another crisis occur. 

He's not alone. An algae remediation robot project from Marine Cleanup Initiative Inc. plowed its way through the problem as well. Each machine comes with the same mission and undergoes an eye test to see which one can remove algae quickly, cleanly and effectively.

“We are kinda open to the worst part of it,” says Mary Radabaugh, manager of Central Marine.  

She saw her fair share of devices slicing and skimming their way into the crisis. Central Marine in Stuart was ground zero for toxic algae. Perhaps she knows best what direction that needs to be headed in. 

“Whatever solution we come up with it has to start at the lake.”

While the debate over where toxic algae are coming from grows louder, rest assured the engines will be firing up to find it.  

“I would like to see these in Lake Okeechobee before they open the locks where the algae start to grow. We should be able to contain it right there,” says McQueen.