Get Updates! and Search
No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entries in pollution (36)

Thursday
Mar192015

Still No Plan to Address Susquehanna's Sick Smallmouth Bass

Despite evidence that smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River are ill, state and federal officials refuse to categorize the waterway as “impaired.” And until it receives that designation, a plan can’t be developed to address the problem, which probably is pollution.

"We are absolutely certain that the smallmouth bass population of the middle Susquehanna River is sick, based upon the continuing presence of lesions and tumors in young and adult bass," said John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating Commission (PFBC).

"We've been collecting data since 2005, and believe that these fish health issues are causing a decline in the population, which means the river is sick. It is not necessary to know the exact source or cause of the sickness before the Commonwealth declares the river as impaired."

Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in its decision to exclude nearly 100 miles of the Susquehanna in its 2014 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report.

In 2012, PFBC asked DEP to declare that section of the river from Sunbury to Holtwood Dam, near the Maryland border, as impaired. Both then and in 2014, DEP asserted that it lacked sufficient data to make that determination.

Now the earliest that the river could be declared impaired is 2016.

Update

Arway recently spoke to the game and fisheries committee of the state House of Representatives about this issue. According to Triblive.com, here's what happened:

He also continued his call to have the Susquehanna River officially declared “impaired.” Once the premier flowing smallmouth bass fishery on the East Coast, it's been in decline in recent years, with smallmouth bass populations shrinking and more and more fish showing up sick, he said.

The commission, state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency are doing a study to determine what's causing the problems, he said. A report is due by September.

After that, action needs to be taken, he said. Sick bass have been showing up since 2005, but no one's done anything but collect data since, Arway said.

An impaired designation would set the stage for a corrective plan, he added.

“We know the fish are sick. The (Department of Environmental Protection) admits the fish are sick. The question is, why are they sick and what are we going to do about it? And we haven't started down that road yet,” Arway said.




Sunday
Dec282014

Despite Phase-Out, Pollutant Persists in Fish

Despite being phased out a dozen years ago, a persistent chemical formerly used in Scotchgard still contaminates bass and other fish in the Great Lakes, and urban rivers, according to a recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Researchers found perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in all of the 157 fish sampled from nearshore waters in the Great Lakes and in 73 percent from 162 rivers.

“This just shows that PFOS still dominates,” said Craig Butt, a Duke University chemist. “Even though production stopped more than a decade ago, it’s still the main perfluorinated acid in the environment.”

PFOS is a suspected endocrine disruptor that has been linked to low birth weights, reduced immune system function in children, and high blood pressure during pregnancy. EPA hasn’t established a “safe” dose for humans, but Minnesota health officials recommend eating only one meal of fish per week if PFOS concentrations are 40 to 200 parts per billion, and only one meal per month if 200 to 800 parts per billion.

About 11 percent of the fish samples from U.S. rivers and 9 percent from the Great Lakes exceeded 40 parts per billion.

The 3M Company, a major manufacturer of PFOS, voluntarily stopped production in 2002, after scientists discovered the chemical was building up in water, wildlife, and people. PFOS and other perfluorinated compounds were used in oil- and water-resistant coatings for clothes, carpet, paper, cookware, and flame-retardant foams.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Friday
Sep052014

Judge Rules BP Grossly Negligent in Gulf Oil Spill

BP could be fined the largest penalty ever levied under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

That’s because U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier recently ruled that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico occurred because of the company’s gross negligence, meaning BP could be liable for as much as $18 billion in pollution fines.

 That amount is far more than the $3.5 billion that the company had set aside and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “would easily exceed the biggest previous fine under the statute.”

That amount was based on BP’s belief that the court would rule the company liable for simple negligence. But a verdict of gross negligence means a fine of as much as $4,300 for each barrel of crude oil spilled in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The judge could decide on lower penalties per barrel, but still the amount is likely to surpass the previous CWA record of $1 billion paid by Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

“More than four years after the BP oil disaster, today’s ruling is a vital step towards restoring important waterfowl and fishing habitat for the next generation of sportsmen and women,” said Vanishing Paradise, a coalition of about 800 hunting and fishing organizations advocating for restoration of the Mississippi River Delta and the gulf.

“The oil spill tarnished hundreds of miles of coastline and marshes important to fresh and saltwater fishing and waterfowling. The areas most damaged by the spill cannot wait any longer for restoration to begin. Recreational fishing is a critical component of the Gulf economy generating $8 billion annually.

“In Louisiana alone, some 10 million ducks, geese and other waterfowl winter along the coast and depend on healthy marshes. We must invest penalty monies in real restoration projects that clean up and restore the waters and coastal habitat that are the backbone of the Gulf region’s economy.”

Monday
Aug112014

More Drugs = More Complications for Our Fisheries

Scientists are just now beginning to explore in-depth the impact of prescription drugs and their residue being flushed into our fisheries by wastewater treatment plants.

And plenty of those chemicals are finding their way into lakes and rivers too, as treatment plants aren’t equipped to filter out such pollutants and nearly half of the population takes a prescription drug each month. In fact, more than 20 percent take three or more monthly, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

As I’ve reported at Activist Angler, most of the news is not good. Check out Scientists Find More Mutated Intersex Fish in Nation’s Waters.

“We’re finding in our study that it (synthetic female hormone found in many drugs) can wipe out fish populations over several generations, and it’s the male fish that are most affected,” says Kristen Keteles, a toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver.

But now here’s an interesting twist and possibly good news:

Researchers in Europe have determined that a drug commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia in humans reduces mortality in Eurasian perch.

Or maybe that’s not such good news after all:

Increased survival of one species could lead to a proportional increase in mortality of another, possibly one that is the prey of the former. As anglers well know, bass and other predators experienced diminished health and growth when there’s not enough food to go around.

“A new, conceptual view of ecotoxicological testing should include the possibility that a substance can improve the health of an organism and make individuals affected by contamination more competitive than non-affected individuals,” said one of the authors of the study.

"Even though our study focused on one single pharmaceutical contaminant, it is possible that similar effects could be induced by exposure to a whole range of pharmaceuticals that find their way into surface waters, such as antibiotics, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones and antidepressants.”

How to dispose of medicines properly

Tuesday
Jun242014

Prescription Drugs Harm Fisheries

Nearly half of the population took a prescription drug during the past 30 days, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics from 2007-2010. Additionally, more than 20 percent took three or more prescription drugs during that period. I’d wager that both percentages have gone up since because, as a society, we’re taking more drugs, not fewer.

 If they improve our health, what could be wrong with that? Well, consider this: a potent synthetic female hormone used in many of those drugs could be harming fish and other aquatic life.

“We’re finding in our study that it can wipe out fish populations over several generations, and it’s the male fish that are most affected,” says Kristen Keteles, a toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver.

“Some studies have found that male fish below wastewater treatment plants, and exposed to female hormones, can lose their masculine characteristics and become indistinguishable from females. Our new study found that a potent form of the female hormone estrogen used in prescription drugs not only causes the males to look female, it also appears to be toxic to male fish and these effects may impact future generations of fish.

“Where do these hormones and medications come from? All of us. Humans excrete hormones and medications, which often end up in our rivers and streams from sewage.

“Disposing of medications by flushing can also contribute to pharmaceuticals in the environment.

“A growing human population, combined with effects of climate change like decreasing precipitation, has resulted in many streams containing higher concentrations of waste water. In fact, some streams in the west are 90% waste water. Not a nice thought if you like to kayak and fish, like I do.”

 Read more here. 

And here is how to properly dispose of medications.