The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection (DEP), and Health (DOH) along with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced a “DO NOT EAT” advisory for all fish species caught in the Shenango River in Mercer and Lawrence Counties due to extremely high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). The advisory extends to all fish between the Shenango Lake Dam and the mouth of the Shenango River in New Castle, PA.
DEP is currently investigating possible sources of the PCB contamination.
“The levels found in the tissue samples are extremely high, and DEP will be investigating to find the source of this contamination,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP will work with EPA and others to determine the sources of this contamination and how to remediate it.
“PCBs are a class of chemical compounds that are hazardous to the health of fish and humans so anglers are strongly encouraged to avoid consuming any species of fish that are caught in this reach of the Shenango River,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “We are very concerned about the fate and effects of PCBs since they have an extremely long environmental half-life and will remain in the river for decades if not properly cleaned up and disposed of.”
A “DO NOT EAT” advisory was already in effect for the river for muskellunge, carp, and channel catfish, and the new advisory now includes all other game fish like smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill, and walleye. PCBs have been shown to cause a wide range of adverse health effects and cancer. There are a number of serious non-cancer health effects in animals including effects on immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system and other organs.
Tissue samples taken from fish found some levels of PCB to be more than 22 mg/kg in smallmouth bass, which is more than 10 times the “NO CONSUMPTION” advisory level of 1.9 mg/kg.
The Fish and Boat Commission will not stock trout in Shenango River Section 04 until further notice. The agency will continue to work to identify another nearby waterbody to provide recreational trout fishing opportunities for anglers.
DEP has contacted the public water suppliers that withdraw water from this area of the river. These water suppliers have been conducting annual monitoring for PCBs. None of the monitoring—including samples collected earlier this year—showed any presence of PCBs in the water itself. These systems have agreed to increase the frequency of monitoring to quarterly to ensure ongoing compliance with the drinking water standards for PCBs.
For more information on fish consumption advisories, see: http://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Water/CleanWater/WaterQuality/FishConsumptionAdvisory/Pages/default.asp