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Dye pack turns Stover Creek neon green

Jason Theobald
Staff Writer

A sea-dye packet caused confusion and alarm Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, as it turned the normally pristine waters of Stover Creek in Chester a brilliant shade of fluorescent green.

Such packets are used in many applications, the most common being their use by individuals or groups in distress at sea to alert search and rescue parties to their location.

Found west of Meadowbrook Loop hanging from a tree along the creek, the dye packet had not completely emptied its contents when responders from Plumas County Sheriff’s Office and Chester Fire Rescue found it and took it down.

The dye, an almost rusty orange color until it reacted with the water of the creek, stained the hands of Deputy Juan Cervantes as he brought the packet out of the brush and placed it in an evidence bag.

Prior to finding the packet, calls were made to Collins Pine Co. to ensure that the mill was not conducting any dye tests, and a representative of the mill was on hand to help find the cause of the mysterious color change. The mill was not conducting any sort of dye tests that day, and the representative was as baffled as the responders until they found the dye packet.

Cervantes speculated that the sea-dye packet was likely a prank, and that after investigation it was determined that the dye was a substance called uranine. He added that the substance was nontoxic and would dissipate over time.

Nearly all the dye near Meadowbrook Loop had dissipated or moved downstream shortly after 1 p.m., although some traces could still be seen in pockets of water less disturbed by the current.

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