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Donna Man Worries Removal Efforts May Not Stop Fishing

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DONNA – The Environmental Protection Agency completed their first day of removing contaminated fish from Donna Lake. Officials said it’s a temporary fix and residents agree.

However, one local man said it’s going to take more than getting rid of the fish to keep people from coming back to Donna Lake.

Esteban Miranda lives in Donna and owns a tire shop right around the corner of Donna Lake.

“The people fish out there and they know it’s contaminated. There are a lot of them. They do it just for sport, but a lot of them do do it to eat it,” he said.

Miranda said he’s known the lake is a risk to people’s health. More than 20 years ago, a cancer-causing chemical was found in the water.

The EPA is still working to clean up the mess. They became aware of the chemical, PCB, after conducting a study.

“We suspect the siphon is the source of the contamination right now. So the fish coming through the siphon and coming down stream of the siphon have the highest concentration of PCBs, and the levels typically go down as you get here to the lake,” on-scene coordinator with EPA Mike McAteer said.

He said the issue is rooted in certain parts of the sediment in the lake. The fish consume these particles which stick to the fatty tissue of the fish. The larger the fish grow the higher concentration.

Officials have posted warning signs about fishing in the lake.

“Unfortunately, even with the outreach that we’ve done and the state and the locals have done, we’re trying to get people to understand not to fish in Donna Lake and Donna canal. People are still coming over here and taking fish out and unfortunately eating them and feeding them to their family. This is only a temporary solution - removing the fish,” McAteer said.

He emphasized removing the fish is only a temporary fix but it’s proactive. But people like Miranda want a permanent solution.

“The permanent solution is coming later with fixing and removing the source,” McAteer said.

At a meeting held earlier this week the EPA and local organizations heard suggestions from people about how a fence would help restrict access around the lake.

McAteer said the EPA is still working to solidify a definitive solution.

There is still no word on when the proposed action will be finalized. 

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