Agencies, Community Working to Find Solution for Donna Lake

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DONNA – Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency met with the community in hopes of finding a solution to clean up Donna Lake.

More than 20 years ago, a cancer-causing chemical was found in Donna Lake, and as of Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency is still working to clean up the mess.

Back in the 90s, the EPA became aware of PCB in the Donna waters. The federal agency put a fish possession ban on the reservoir and canal system. A CHANNEL 5 NEWS investigation in 2008 revealed many people were ignoring or unaware of the fish ban at Donna Lake. 

These days people are still found fishing at the lake despite the warning signs stating it’s forbidden. The community is demanding a solution for the decades-long issue.

A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE) and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (TxLIHIS) are collaborating with the regional staff from EPA to find the right fix. Many community members feel removing the fish is an important first step.

Officials with EPA said on Thursday starting at 8 a.m. they will begin to remove fish out of Donna Lake.

Almost 39,000 fish were already removed from the reservoir and canal system during cleanups in 2008, 2009 and 2012. EPA and state health officials also went door-to-door in 2009, 2011 and 2012 to inform residents about the risks of eating the contaminated fish. 

“We believe from the data that the siphon, the construction materials used to construct the siphon in 1928 is the source of the PCBs,” EPA Environmental Scientist Rafael Casanova said. “The latest study outlines all the alternatives that we came up with to clean up the site and that’s what they will use to develop the proposed plan.”

The EPA will sample fish tissue to make sure the PCB concentration isn’t above a certain level.

Casanova said the fish will then be disposed of at a landfill.

EPA said they will be working out in the lake for the week and a half.

Casanova said there is still no word on when the proposed action will be finalized.

You can watch the original investigation into the cancer-causing chemicals found at the lake below.


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