SCARBOROUGH — The town is fighting an invasion of Asian red algae covering parts of Pine Point Beach, and the smelly infestation is lasting longer than usual.

Officials said the seaweed cannot be completely cleared because of a conservation easement covering one section of beach.

Algae is cleared from parts of the beach Tuesdays and Fridays, in the early mornings. But with two daily tides, the effort at best is a standoff.

Driftwood Lane resident Tookie Clifford said the algae has remained longer than it usually does.

“It’s very depressing and the smell is awful,” Clifford said. “It’s a very offensive smell, especially at low tide.”

The area currently being cleared is from the Pine Point parking lot on Avenue 5 to the Old Orchard Beach line. But a 2,000-foot section from the parking lot to the jetty is protected by a 1973 conservation easement.

The Pillsbury Shores easement doesn’t allow the invasive ocean plant to be completely cleared, said Mike Shaw of the Public Works Department. The easement prohibits construction, removal or destruction of shrubs, grass or other vegetation, and the excavation, dredging or removal of materials that would affect the surface. Shaw said the offshore topography is responsible for where the algae is deposited.

Pillsbury Shores Association President Gerry Gaudette said the town, the state and property owners are working to get the beach cleaned on the other side of the jetty, but it’s a long process.

“The state is being a stickler about it,” he said last week.

Gaudette said the parties expect to meet with state officials this week. He said one possibility would be to prove the algae poses a health hazard.

The town has an application under review with the state to allow for a permit to conduct a cleanup, said John Bott, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Bott said he was not certain whether the permit would be for one season, or in perpetuity. It would be in effect for next year, he said.

Hall said the algae was apparently introduced to the local ecosystem about five or six years ago, carried from Asia in the ballast water from ocean-going tankers.

“Curiously, it stops at the Old Orchard Beach line,” Hall said, probably because of water currents.

Juliette Laaka can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 106, or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @JulietteLaaka

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