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EPA Begins Fish Removal Process at Donna Lake

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DONNA – The Environmental Protection Agency crews spent Thursday removing the contaminated fish from the Donna Lake to help clean it up.

More than 20 years ago, the EPA found the cancer-causing chemical PCB in the waters. Officials banned citizens from fishing at the lake.

Crews used an electro-shocking method to remove the fish on Thursday. It sends out electrical current throughout the water around the boats.

When the fish hit that current, they pop up and are brought back to shore. EPA officials then weigh and count them.

They take sample tissue and then the fish are taken in drums to a local landfill.

Mike McAteer, an on-scene coordinator with the EPA, said over a few years the fish grow to an edible size fish.

He said they have returned because the fish that have come through since the last removal have grown up back to edible size.

“In certain areas, there’s contamination in the sediment so some of the fish that tend to stay at the bottom, which would be your carps and catfish, so we’re concerned about those,” McAteer said. “PCBs do like to adhere themselves to sediment particles, and then as the fish ingest the particles, they accumulate in their fatty tissue.”

McAteer said the PCBs are referred to as hydrophobic meaning the molecules do not adhere well to water.

He said they have conducted studies and sampled that ensure the water is safe to drink.

It’s the consumption of the fish that is the issue. 

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