Construction Barges Contaminated With Invasive Mussels Heading to Seattle

We've reported on the threat of invasive quagga mussels in an earlier post, and it looks like that threat has never been greater. Forty-one barges are set to arrive in Seattle, Washington, and they appear to be infested with the destructive species.

According to Karen Vargas, wildlife staff specialist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, trucks shipping the barges from Lake Mead, Nevada will be arriving throughout the weekend; the last shipment is scheduled to arrive on Monday, April 16.

The Vegas Tunnel Construction Company is responsible for the barges, and although the company claims that the barges have been cleaned, photographs taken by diligent inspectors with the Idaho Transportation Department show otherwise.

For now, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and Nevada Department of Wildlife have been in contact with the owners of the barges and are developing a plan to ensure that the barges are properly cleaned before leaving Nevada and re-inspected once they arrive in Washington.

These mussels spread rapidly and can quickly cover hard surfaces, smothering other aquatic life and clogging water system infrastructures. It's not exaggerating to say that the costs of an infestation, both financially and to the ecosystem, would be enormous.

We'll keep you updated.