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Updated Fish Advisory Shows More Waterways At Risk

Date : Thu, 19 Apr 2012 12:36:05 -0400

/For Immediate Release/
April 19, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*Updated Fish Advisory Shows More Waterways At Risk* The DEP has released updated fish advisory, showing 14 more streams impacted by pollution.This pollution is primarily from mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs).Mercury enters the food chain primarily from pollution from coal-fired power plants while PCBs leak from contaminated sites we have failed to clean up.The Christie administration has only made these problems worse through their policies.The administration did not support the EPA on a lawsuit to reduce toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants upwind of New Jersey and not developed important toxic site cleanup standards mandated by the EPA.

"When you see standards of one fish every week, it should actually be one fish every couple of years.Our waterways are hit by more and more pollution and the DEP is sending out press releases instead of implementing policies to makes our streams and rivers healthier," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. The fish advisory uses the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standard of a cancer risk in 1 in 10,000 people, not the 1 in one million, which is the standard New Jersey uses for drinking water and toxic site cleanup.The advisory is no more than twice a year for bluefish, but if the one in a million standard was used it would be once every 20 years and women in child bearing years and children should not have any at all.The advisory is based on acceptable levels for adults, so we have to be even more careful with children.

"The risk factor should be one in a million. Using one in 10,000 gives the false impression that it may be safer to eat than it is," *said Jeff Tittel*. The DEP has not adopted wildlife criteria for toxic cleanups, which the agency was supposed to complete for a number of watersheds including the Delaware but has yet to do.The state is under orders from the EPA to develop criteria for the protection of wildlife from mercury, heavy metals, dioxins and PCBs.DEP failing to implement those standards put us all at risk becasue the standards include the fish we eat.The DEP has been working with the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) Board to adopt standards that shut out the public and weaken standards for site cleanup.

"This shows yet again the failure of New Jersey to protect people and wildlife from the impacts of toxins from contaminated sites, landfills, and industrial discharges.The Delaware River has the fourth largest discharge of toxins in the country and then you wonder why you cannot eat the fish," *said Jeff Tittel*. Last year The Governor chose not to join 7 other northeastern states in a lawsuit to support the EPA's Cross State Air Pollution Rule. This rule even had support from the former Governor's Tom Kean and Christie Whitman as well as the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Exelon, and PSE&G, but not from Governor Christie. This rule would reduce the amount of toxic pollution from coal plants to our west in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other Midwestern states. One-third of New Jersey's pollution comes from out-of-state.The EPA's Cross State Air Pollution rule would improve our air quality while creating jobs to retrofit polluting facilities.Instead the Governor chose to petition the EPA to require emission reductions at individual power plants.These individual challenges will be tied in court and will not require emission reductions as quickly as EPA regulations.

"Mercury pollution from coal fired power plants has been impacting our families and contaminating the fish we eat.Governor Christie would rather appease national polluters than clean up mercury pollution," *said Jeff Tittel.*"Going after the Mid-West plants individually puts not only our environment at risk, but also the people given all the fish advisories for mercury." Mercury may be found naturally but it gets released from the burning of coal at power plants, cement kilns, and incinerators. Toxic mercury gets released into the air and then it rains down into our lakes, streams and other waters. Mercury then accumulates in fish in our waterways and reservoirs putting our public health at risk.Unfortunately our waterways are so polluted that nearly all fish contain traces of mercury. There are fish advisories at some of the most pristine water bodies in the Highlands and Pinelands because of what comes down from the sky from coal plants in the Mid-West. If ingested mercury can become a dangerous neurotoxin, damage the brain, and nervous system.Mercury is particularly harmful to pregnant women and children causing severe birth defects, such as developmental disorders and learning disabilities.

"These fish advisories are the result of failed policies by the Christie administration," *said Jeff Tittel*."Instead of implementing important standards for toxic site cleanup or fighting to reduce the amount of coal pollution that impacts New Jersey, the administration is working to dismantle 30 years of environmental protections.Under this administration we will be lucky if we do not see more streams under advisory next year." The fish advisories can be accessed here:www.fishsmarteatsmartnj.org <http://www.fishsmarteatsmartnj.org>

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-04-19 09:36:05

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