EPA concern over fish caught in Oklahoma's Spring and Neosho Rivers

Tuesday, August 24th 2004, 2:35 pm
By: News On 6

The most recent list from the Environmental Protection Agency on polluted fish shows that one-third of all US Lakes and one-fourth of US rivers have problems.

The EPA's list contains every advisory from every state for the year 2003. So how does Oklahoma stack up?

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says the good news is there are just two current advisories. The bad news is the one for northeast Oklahoma is fairly widespread. The fish advisory is for the Spring and Neosho Rivers.

State officials say it applies from the state line down to but "not including" Grand Lake. They say the advisory is most serious in the immediate vicinity of Tar Creek. Lead and Cadmium are the contaminants they're worried about. And the advisory applies to all species of fish. State officials say it's safe for people who catch fish out of this area to eat up to 6 eight ounce portions per month, but only if they're fish "filets".

They say it's not safe to eat whole fish, which they say is a practice among some Native Americans. Of course, the problems in the Tar Creek area are well-documented. The state issued warnings about Lead and Cadmium in the area last year.

Lead can damage internal organs, especially the kidneys, nervous system, and brain. Cadmium is believed to cause cancer. The good news is that the EPA says pollution is dropping and monitoring by state officials in "increasing", but there's still work to do.