OLYMPIA, Wash. - Red dye will be injected into treated wastewater this week at Joint Base Lewis McChord’s wastewater plant then monitored in a state health department study. The Department of Health, along with federal, tribal, state and local agencies, are doing the study in the Puget Sound waters off Solo Point in Pierce County to see where shellfish are safe to harvest.
The test will be on Monday and Tuesday. Red dye will likely be visible in the waters near the treatment plant. Tracking will include gauging the wastewater’s movement and dilution. The dye isn’t harmful to people, marine life, or the environment.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is funding this test as part of a larger study, which includes other pollution surveys and ongoing marine water quality monitoring. Results will help determine whether closed shellfish beaches in some areas of Pierce County could be reopened to harvest.
The Department of Health is responsible for the safety of commercial shellfish harvested in the state. The agency’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection uses national standards to classify all commercial shellfish harvesting areas.