Columbia River shoreline closed again over toxic algae

Benton-Franklin Health District lifts restrictions at Scooteney Reservoir — Columbia River
Credit: Dr. Jennifer L. Graham; U.S. Geological Survey

RICHLAND, Wash. — Shorelines across the Columbia River have been closed once again because of toxic algae contaminating the water across Leslie Groves Park in Richland.

According to an emergency alert from the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD), the closure went into immediate effect on Thursday, October 21, 2021. The shoreline is closed from the Leslie Groves boat launch at Snyder Street. That closure spans to the park’s south dike.

RELATED: One dog dies, two recovered from potentially toxic algae in Columbia River

Health officials tested dangerously high levels of cyanobacteria in the algae along the shoreline. This neurotoxin is particularly dangerous for small children and pets.

Signs of consumption include numbness of the lips, dizziness, and tingling in the fingers and toes. In animals, common signs include weakness, difficulty breathing, convulsions, staggering, and in the most severe circumstances, death.

Symptoms typically appear within 20 minutes of ingesting the contaminated materials, which can be found in fish tissue.

RELATED: Bennington Lake in Walla Walla closed after discovery of toxic algae

With that being the case, health officials suggest that fish from the Columbia River be cleaned thoroughly before they are cooked and served for human consumption. Express extra caution when removing the liver, kidneys, and other organs from fish before cooking them.

While the Columbia River shoreline is closed, all people are advised to stay out of the water. Exposure to the toxic algae bloom can be fatal for human beings. Public health officials will continue testing the water weekly until these levels are deemed to be safe.

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