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Fish Near Smurfit-Stone Mill Contaminated, No Eat Warning Issued

northern pike
Photo courtesy of Travis S./Flickr

Three Montana state departments issued warnings today, October 17, about eating fish caught below the old Smurfit-Stone mill site on the Clark Fork river.

“We did some research this summer looking at the contaminate levels in both northern pike and rainbow trout,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, spokeswoman Vivica Crowser. “After the lab results have come back, what we found is that we do have higher than normal and higher than desirable concentrations of some chemicals that, at high enough exposure, can cause effects in humans.”

The research found chemicals such as “dioxins, furans, and  PCBs” in the fish. All of which are associated with the pulp and paper mill industry and can damage immune and nervous systems in humans.

“The Department of Health and Human Services is recommending not to eat northern pike that are caught in the Clark Fork river from the confluence of the Bitterroot downstream to the confluence of the Flathead,” Crowser said. “With rainbow trout, we are recommending limited consumption of just four per month.”

Crowser said the likelihood of adverse effects from eating the fish is not great and that the warnings were issued with the most sensitive members of the community in mind. Sensitive members include children and pregnant women.

The warnings will continue until the site is cleaned up. It is unclear if the discovery will spur a clean-up by the EPA, the EPA’s Region 8 web page for the mill site has not been updated with the recent findings.

Vivica Crowser:

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