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Dow sponsors giving contaminated fish to the poor  Reply with quote


Dow-sponsored Walleye Fest to donate contaminated fish to the poor
Anglers will compete this weekend to catch breeding fish that will be swimming upstream through areas some say should be a federal Superfund site.

By Eartha Jane Melzer 4/22/09 12:54 AM

A warning sign telling people not to eat fish caught in the Tittabawassee River
Despite advisories that warn people to avoid contact with river sediments and consuming locally caught fish, thousands are expected to participate this weekend in a Dow Chemical-sponsored walleye festival along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, where the watershed has been contaminated with harmful dioxin and other toxic substances.

And just as the Michigan Department of Community Health is warning that children and pre-menopausal women should mostly avoid eating river fish including walleye because of contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin, organizers of the festival say they plan to donate walleye fillets to a local food bank.

“Dow and MidMichigan Health [the local hospital system] have always been the biggest sponsors of the festival,” said Steve Doyle, spokesman for the Freeland Lions Club which has organized the festival for 24 years.

This year’s event features a Special Olympics hot dog cook-out, a teen dance and battle of the bands, a rummage sale and beer tent. But the centerpiece of the festival is the walleye tournament — a competition to see who can catch the largest fish from the river.

Doyle said that the people fishing for walleye are aware of the state fish advisories. “The fishermen all know about the advisories ’cause they are posted when you buy a permit,” he said.

“We don’t serve any walleye caught in river,” he said, adding that the fish served during the Friday evening fish fry is “probably pollock.” Doyle estimates that 80 percent of the Walleye Fest competitors will keep and use the fish they catch.

“Other people donate them to food banks,” he said. “If people don’t want the fish we will filet the fish and donate them to different food organizations that want them.”

Dioxin remediation work three miles downstream from Freeland in Saginaw Township’s West Michigan Park will not impact the river-wide festival, Doyle said.

It is breeding season for walleye. The fish are swimming from Saginaw Bay, up the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers, through a zone that some insist should be listed as a Superfund site. In 2007 the highest level of dioxin contamination ever measured by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was found in the Saginaw River prompting emergency clean up. Other dioxin remediation projects are ongoing. The entire span of the river used for the walleye festival is known to be contaminated with dioxin from chemical manufacturing operations at Dow Chemical’s Midland plant.

Kory Groetsch, toxicologist with the state Department of Community Health said that larger fish are likely to contain higher concentrations of chemicals.

“Science at this point is not able to say [that] if you ate this one fish it is going to cause X amount of cancer,” he said. This is because everyone has different history of past exposure, and different genetic and health issues.”

The department is wary of events like Walleye Fest. “We don’t endorse fish festivals.” Groetsch said. “We are trying to get the public information about consuming fish at a rate that is going to be protective.”

The department recommends children under 15 and pre-menopausal women eat no walleye larger than 18 inches and one meal per month from walleye under 18 inches.

This could make finding a safe walleye difficult.

According to Joseph Bohr, an aquatic biologist with the DEQ’s water bureau, the legal size for walleye is 15 inches. And since the walleye are currently headed up river to spawn those caught during Walleye Festival are likely to be larger, full grown adults.

More information about Michigan fish advisories is available at the website for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

What a thoughtful bunch.
Post Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:14 am
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Joined: 25 Aug 2006
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This is right in my backyard, or at least former backyard (Saginaw and Bay City). Both of the rivers mentioned are disgustingly polluted by Dow, just down the road in Midland. All I can picture is some poor folks being overjoyed to get a fish wrapped in newspaper, opening it up and seeing the the three-eyed fish from the Simpsons.

Dow can't even be charitable with their charity.
Post Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:36 am
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Throw some oysters up in that river and then next year you can have a big polluted oyster cook off as well! Winner!! Winner!!

I think that it is amazing that people "live" witht he idea that their water ways are so polluted that you can't even eat the fish. Our delta system in northern California has a "one per year" recommendation because mercury levels are so high. I'm pretty sure those fishermen in their shiny boats are grubbing down more than one per year.
Post Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:53 am
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