Officials from the Washington State Department of Health, City of Shelton, Squaxin Tribe, and other federal and state agencies will be conducting a dye test in Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet from December 1st through December 4th. The dye test is part of a voluntary study to identify areas where pollution may make shellfish unsafe for human consumption. Officials will also be working to identify the potential source(s) of the Norovirus outbreak that occurred earlier this year.
Red dye will be added to treated wastewater from Shelton’s main treatment plant. The red dye will likely be visible in Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet during the first day of the dye test on December 1st. While a change in water color may be observed, it is important to note that the dye is not harmful to people, marine life, or the environment.
Monitoring stations have been setup throughout Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet to measure dye levels. Tracking wastewater from the wastewater treatment plant, onsite septic systems, and other drainage areas throughout the area will help to identify areas where shellfish may be impacted by pollution.
Earlier this year, in response to the Norovirus outbreak, the Washington State Department of Health did an onsite evaluation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, which included a review of the discharge monitoring reports. It was determined that the facility meets all National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permit conditions. The City of Shelton has historically taken extra precautions to ensure that the wastewater treatment plant exceeds the Washington State Department of Ecology testing standards. The city is sensitive to the nearby shellfish industry and the surrounding environment, and is committed to maintaining an elevated standard of performance.
The Washington State Department of Health is responsible for the safety of commercial shellfish harvested throughout the state. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety uses national standards to classify all commercial harvest areas to determine whether or not shellfish in the area can be harvested for human consumption.
Check out the Washington State Department of Health website for more information on commercial shellfish regulations and the classification of commercial shellfish harvesting areas: https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish/GrowingAreas.
The full Oakland Bay/Hammersley Inlet study plan from the Washington State Department of Health is available here: http://www.sheltonwa.gov/WSDOH%20Oakland%20Bay,%20Hammersley%20Inlet%20Study%20Plan.pdf.