Posted by . on October 04, 2002 at 08:03:32:
Testing of local fish begins
SOUTH BAY: Officials say results, expected in May, will warn sport anglers about contamination levels and aid in restoration planning.
Fishing could be hazardous to your health.
Launching a new study to determine chemical contamination levels found in local fish, a group of government agencies hopes sport anglers will pay attention when their survey results are released early next year.
For the next several weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the six agencies of the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program will collect samples of 23 species of fish from Ventura to Dana Point to check for DDT and PCBs.
The list includes Pacific barracuda, Pacific sardine, yellowtail, white sea bass, white croaker and California halibut.
We want to provide updated information so people can make informed decisions about where to fish, said Pamela Castens, program manager for the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program.
Results, expected in about six months, will serve to warn anglers about possible contamination levels and help officials plan restoration projects with the $140 million set aside in settlement money.
Fish is an important part of peoples diets, and theres a lot of fish out there to eat, project manager Fred Schauffler said.
Helping to catch the fish for testing, Ken Nielsen of SeaVentures of Dana Point said the crews spend about three or four days in each site and will collect samples from 30 areas.
Most of the sites are in Los Angeles County and will include locations where anglers frequently fish.
The fish being tested range from tiny species to those weighing as much as 30 pounds.
From the late 1940s until the 1970s, Los Angeles area factories dumped thousands of tons of DDT and PCBs into the local sewer system, which discharges into the ocean near White Point on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Although the discharges stopped about 30 years ago, more than 100 tons of DDT and PCBs still remain in the sea bottom sediment near the Palos Verdes Peninsula and in Santa Monica Bay, according to survey officials.
Restoration projects could include covering the sediment with artificial reefs to attract different kinds of fish to the area.
While testing has been done before resulting in strongly worded warnings to fishermen not to eat white croaker caught in the area this will be more comprehensive than other surveys, Castens said.
DDT levels in some local fish have been found to be the highest found in food fish anywhere in the United States. Previous studies show the most highly contaminated fish are found between Redondo Beach and Long Beach, including the Palos Verdes Peninsula area and the Los Angeles-Long Beach harbors.
Results are expected to be released in May.
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