PCBs found in catfish in three Yadkin lakes

I can’t believe the Salisbury Post, which covered Monday evening’s public meeting on the Yadkin Pee-Dee River System Fish and Sediment Study, failed to report that there are PCBs in High Rock Lake.  If you want something done right … Here’s what you need to know.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, reported their findings Monday (May 13) evening at a public meeting held at Morrow Mountain State Park near Albemarle.  The study was conducted in conjunction with the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the EPA.  Sediment samples were collected in 2011 and 2012 in boat access and swimming areas where the public comes into contact with lake bottoms, as well as in the center channel of High Rock, Badin, Falls, and Tillery Lakes, and the upper reaches of Blewett Falls Lake.

Aroclor PCBs were detected in two samples, one in a small cove above the Falls Dam, and the other below the Lake Tillery Dam.  Subsequent testing in the Falls Lake cove found no PCBs present, indicating either a very small contaminated area, or that the contaminated sediment had washed away.  No harmful health effects were indicated for the most sensitive group, children ages 1 to 6, or for persons of other ages.

PCBs are a class of man-made chemicals thought to be carcinogenic which were manufactured between 1929 and 1977.  1.1 million tons were manufactured worldwide; 625,000 tons were sold in the U. S.  They were widely used in electrical and hydraulic equipment, fluorescent lighting, appliances, inks, pesticides, waxes, and carbonless paper.  They are widely circulated in water systems as well as through global atmospheric transport.  A point source is not required for them to be present.  PCBs  are everywhere, even in the Artic and Antarctic.

Fish sampling in Badin Lake in 2008 had found three catfish and one largemouth bass to be above the advisory action levels for total PCBs in fish tissue.  Of those, two catfish and the one bass were caught in the northwest arm of the lake, and one catfish in the southwest region of the lake.  Based on the results of the study, the NC Division of Public Health recommended that people limit their consumption of catfish and largemouth bass to no more than 1 meal per week due to PCBs.  Due to an existing Mercury Advisory for fresh water fish caught in NC, women who are pregnant, nursing, or of child-bearing age, and children younger than 15 years of age should not eat any catfish or largemouth bass from Badin Lake.

In conjunction with the 2011-2012 sediment testing, fish were sampled in High Rock and Falls Lakes, and in Lake Tillery.  Nine samples exceeded the PCB action level, three in each lake.  All were catfish over 18” long.  In High Rock Lake, one of the fish had been caught in the upper region of the lake, near Potts Creek, the other two in the Abbott Creek arm of the lake.  Based on these results, the same advisories were made as in Badin Lake, with the exception that the advisories for High Rock, Falls, and Tillery Lakes apply only to catfish.  No bass were found in any of the three lakes which exceeded the PCB action level.

The State environmental agencies and the EPA have said since 2009 that the PCBs in Badin Lake could not be conclusively linked to Alcoa.  They are a watershed-based issue.  I think the prevalence of PCBs throughout the lower Yadkin basin, above and below Badin Lake, bears out that conclusion, and shows that both the amount of attention paid to Badin Lake, and the accusations blaming Alcoa for the PCBs, have been blown out of proportion.

For further information:

Reports by Site, NC Division of Public Health

PowerPoint presentation from meeting 5/13/2013: Yadkin-PeeDee.Fish.PCBs_WEB.pdf

Map of Sampling locations: Yadkin_PCB_study_map.pdf

See also:

Environmental reports on PCBs in Badin Lake

Putting PCBs in context

State approves Alcoa Sediment Capping Project at Badin Lake

 

 

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Tags: , , , Alcoa, environment, , Badin Lake, Falls, High Rock Lake, Lake, PCB, Tillery, Yadkin River, quality", More…water

Comment by another David on May 15, 2013 at 2:36am

Another kicker is that the Yadkin Riverkeeper is absolutely giddy that the AP article which came out in advance of the study results, instigated by a press release he sent out, criticizing the Division of Public Health, is getting wide-spread play.  The result is that the press has not reported on the results of the study.  The public has not been advised that there are PCBs in fish in 3 area lakes, and the man who is supposed to care about the public's welfare is gloating!

Comment by Whigkid on May 15, 2013 at 12:58pm

Since the presence of PCBs in Badin Lake became known, there have been PCB fish advisories posted for Lake Norman, Mountain Island Lake, Lake Wylie, Catawba River from Lake Wylie to Fishing Creek Reservoir, Fishing Creek Reservoir and Cedar Creek Reservoir, and Lake Wateree on the Catawba River in North and South Carolina.  Some of them are higher level advisories than any on the Yadkin.  It looks like at least a regional problem.  We won't know if it's even more widespread until DENR finds the money to do more testing.

Comment by John D. Young on May 15, 2013 at 6:08pm
The study reported Monday night showed:

1. PCBs are in High Rock and are a river basin wide issue.

2. The study showed that there are no health risk to even very young children who swim or play in the water.

3. The study showed that fish can be eaten from all of the lakes, however, catfish over 18" should not be eaten more than once a week.

4. This new, very sensitive test, along with NCDENR's much more conservative and highly protective guidelines has shown PCBs in all waterways in NC where this new PCB testing process has been used.

5. NCDENR has also decided to not issue any special fish advisory warning since there is already a statewide fish advisory that recommends no one eat more than one catfish per week due to mercury levels throughout the state.

6. The lakes, according to NCDENR's several recent studies are both swimmable and fishable.
Comment by flowerchild on May 15, 2013 at 6:34pm

The Stanly News and Press reported the study results:  http://thesnaponline.com/x319986583/Study-confirms-PCBs-in-Falls-Re...

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