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Authorities Investigate Venice Canal Water

A patch of the famed Grand Canal in Venice mysteriously turned a fluorescent green Sunday morning

Residents reported the spectacle near the Rialto Bridge's embankment to authorities, fearing it could be toxic. 

Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region, said that authorities investigated the origin of the color through a series of chemical and biological tests using samples collected from the water  His office worked in tandem with local environment officials as well as fire and rescue agencies to identify the substance. 

The Regional Agency for Environmental Prevention and Protection of Veneto determined the substance to be fluorescein. The non-toxic chemical is often used to test wastewater networks. The origin of its presence has not been revealed however, some suspect it to be the work of environmental activists. 

“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,”Zaia said in a statement on Twitter. “Unfortunately Venice has become the stage for actions far beyond the lines: adequate and strong responses are needed.”

An eco-artist, Nicolás García Uriburu, colored the waters of the Grand Canal in 1968 using fluorescein to promote environmental awareness. Many believe this callback is an attempt to do the same. Multiple Italian cultural sites have been targeted by environmental activists in recent months to draw attention to the climate crisis. Ultima Generazione, a group of climate activists who “carry out nonviolent civil disobedience actions”, has committed several acts of protest to raise awareness. Since April, the group has poured charcoal into fountains in Rome at least three times. However, Ultima Generazione is denying involvement in this ordeal. 

Venice is a city that has dealt with several environmental issues. According to a study published in 2022, the city will be underwater by 2100 due to the rising sea levels in the area if the issue of climate change is not addressed soon. 

Despite the strange color of the water, business continued on as usual and water taxis, water buses, and gondolas kept working. The social media spectacle following the Grand Canal’s color reveal drew even more attention to the area. Several people online compared the color to the Chicago River during St. Patrick’s Day. 

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