Health officials in Bremerton, Washington are warning people to stay clear of Kitsap County’s Sinclair Inlet after thousands of gallons of raw sewage was dumped in the waterway last weekend.
This area, which was previously closed to shellfish harvesting due to pollution, is part of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The spill, which was estimated at 4,000 gallons lasted the entire weekend.
Officials warned people that the water is unsafe and that the area is a no contact zone where the public is advised against swimming, wading, or types of water recreation or play where water could be swallowed or get in the mouth, nose or eyes.
Sewage spills are extremely toxic to marine life worldwide with the damage being widespread. Sewage-contaminated water causes eutrophication, which is the increase in concentration of chemical elements required for life. The nitrates, phosphates, and organic matter found in human waste serves as a food for algae and bacteria. This causes these organisms to overpopulate to the point where they use up most of the dissolved oxygen that is naturally found in water, making it difficult for other organisms in this aquatic environment to live.
Contaminated waters can also lead to water and marine life to carry viral hepatitis, cholera, typhoid fever, and a range of stomach and intestinal diseases.
At this point, officials have not said what or why the spill has occurred. The advisory will remain in effect until this Sunday.