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Haz-mat scare closes road -- News Roundup

Haz-mat scare closes road

South-end traffic was disrupted for nearly six hours Wednesday, while fire crews investigated a possible hazardous substance in a container found alongside Country Club Road.

Passersby reported a gallon-plus glass container half-filled with an unknown liquid, sitting at the edge of Blakely Harbor Park between Blakely Avenue and Fort Ward Hill Road.

The substance – later described by one source as “stinky and organic” – was said to be “off-gassing” and bubbling in the sun. It was fully contained and had not spilled onto the roadway or shoulder.

Nevertheless, fire officials closed the road and summoned toxics experts from the state Department of Ecology. Traffic to and from South Beach, Toe Jam Hill and other neighborhoods was detoured through Fort Ward State Park.

A battery of field tests showed that the substance was not hazardous, although what exactly it is remains unknown, Bainbridge Fire Chief Jim Walkowski said.

“We know what it wasn’t,” Walkowski said. “It wasn’t toxic, it wasn’t flammable, and it had a pH that was neutral.”

The container and substance were taken to a state lab for further testing.

“We were probably over-cautious,” Walkowski said. “We always are these days. If nothing else, itwas a very good drill.”

– Douglas Crist

Skull found at building site

Construction workers found a human skull and bones during excavation at a north-end job site this week, temporarily shutting down work there.

The discovery was reported July 20 on Treasure Island in Port Madison, where new owners are constructing a home.

The county coroner was called in, but forensic examination showed the bones were not recent and gave no indication of foul play.

Bainbridge Police Detective Scott Anderson said Suquamish tribal officials were contacted, in case the remains had significance to them. Officials also speculated that the bones could have dated to Port Madison’s days as a ship-building center.

– Douglas Crist

‘Evening’ crew tries again

You can’t call it an encore, but Bainbridge Performing Arts should appear on KING-5’s program Evening Magazine after all.

Host John Curly had announced plans to film on the island on Monday, with the cast of the BPA production “Harry Tracy: A Bainbridge Bandit,” with the program to air this past Wednesday.

Shooting was canceled because of an unspecified conflict. But Per Sherwin, BPA managing director, said the Evening Magazine crew vowed to show up yesterday, to shoot a program slated to air at 8 p.m. July 27, after the Democratic National Convention.

“Oh my gosh, we might get huge audiences with that,” Sherwin said.

– Douglas Crist

Tomorrow not yet today

The city received an overwhelming response to a request early this summer for citizen volunteers for the Winslow Tomorrow planning effort, the administration said Friday.

The goal was to recruit 60 - 70 volunteers for a Community Congress that will play a key role in the development of plans for the City’s downtown area, and more than 130 citizens applied.

Said Sandy Fischer, who started this week as project manager for the design effort, “We’re wanting to get back to the applicants, but the process has been delayed while we explore meaningful ways to involve all of those citizens who want to participate.”

Fischer said training will be held in early August for those who want to serve as facilitators in the process, and that an announcement of the Congress members is expected mid-month.

Red tide closes shellfish harvest

Local beaches were closed to shellfish harvest this week due to high levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison.

The closure was announced by the Kitsap County Health District and the Washington State Department of Health, and affects recreational harvesting on both public and private beaches.

It includes harvest of all species of clams, mussels and oysters, from Point No Point south to the county line, including Bainbridge Island, Appletree Cove, Miller Bay, Liberty Bay, Dyes Inlet, Sinclair Inlet and Colvos Passage.

The closure was issued after high levels of PSP were found in shellfish samples collected July 19 at several Kitsap locations.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the levels over the last week,” said Shawn Ultican of the Kitsap County Health District. “We’re seeing a trend of beach closures throughout central Puget Sound.

“With the current weather, toxin levels may likely rise in other areas as well. People should always call to check for closures before they dig shellfish.”

The PSP toxin is produced by microscopic plankton that occurs naturally in our marine waters.

These organisms are more common in the spring, summer, or fall, when sunny days and warmer temperatures can cause unpredictably rapid growth, or a plankton “bloom.” Filter-feeding shellfish then consume the plankton and may concentrate the toxin in their tissues.

The color of the water does not indicate whether shellfish are safe to eat. The types of plankton that change the color of the water (causing “red tides”) are usually not toxic, while the toxin-producing plankton are not usually visible. Toxic shellfish do not look or taste any different than those shellfish not carrying the toxin. PSP toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking.

The symptoms of PSP toxin exposure typically occur within one hour after eating contaminated shellfish. Symptoms may include a tingling and numbness of the lips and tongue, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, and difficulty in breathing.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms after eating shellfish. There is no antidote for the PSP toxin, and extreme cases can be fatal.

Shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxin prior to distribution.

For current shellfish closures within Kitsap County, call the hotline at (800) 2BE-WELL or see www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm.

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