Coal Ash Wednesday: about those fish...

Why leaving the vast majority of the coal ash in the Dan River is dangerously negligent:

Most species of aquatic insects live in the sediment, collecting, filtering, and grazing upon minute particles of food. Nothing goes to waste down there, not even the arsenic and selenium from coal ash. Heavy metals get lodged into the tissues of any insect that eats them. When minnows eat the insects, they consume the toxins. Larger fish get toxins from every minnow they eat. As you climb higher in the food chain, the amount of arsenic or selenium you find multiplies progressively. This process is called biomagnification and it has impacts on a food web from bottom to top.

NC's Department of Public Health has lifted its recreational advisory (they have yet to post the press release on their website, but I will link to it when they do), telling people it's okay to swim and fish in the River. But they're apparently still advising people to not eat the fish they say it's okay to catch. Which is a contradiction I'm still trying to wrap my mind around. Anyway, back to the science:

There is mounting concern in the scientific, environmental, private, and governmental sectors on a wide range of substances, known as endocrine disruptors, that may interfere with the normal functioning of a living organism's hormone system. Endocrine disruption has the potential to cause:

•immune system, and
•neurological problems, and

Research shows that endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest risk to offspring during prenatal and early postnatal development when organ and neural systems are developing. However, adverse consequences may not be apparent until much later in life.(1) In addition, endocrine disruptors may affect not just the offspring of mothers exposed to endocrine disruptors during pregnancy, but future offspring as well.(2)
Chemicals that mimic or antagonize the:

•female estrogenic hormones,
•male androgenic hormones (such as testosterone), or
•thyroid hormones,

are currently receiving the most attention. All three groups are needed to support life in mammals, including people, as well as amphibians, fish, birds, and reptiles. Possible effects on invertebrates also are receiving attention.

Coal ash may contain several of these toxic disruptors, including selenium, arsenic, strontium and vanadium, to name just a few. And when you've got 70 miles of a river affected, with varying levels of coal ash accumulation and silt coverage, the continued bioaccumulation of these toxins is not a question of if, but when and how much.

This nightmare is far from over, and media outlets need to take a much more aggressive stance with DENR, DHHS and (of course) Duke Energy.


I'm having a hard time comprehending

how it is ok to swim in (and inevitably swallow) water when it is not ok to eat the fish that are caught in these waters.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It's like your dryer filter,

which is a painfully inaccurate analogy, but: you can sniff every piece of clothing you put into the dryer and you might trick yourself into sneezing, but if you tried to snort the collection of dust and lint and human skin (gack) that collects in the filter after each drying cycle, you would have a problem.

The parts per million of toxins in a mouthful of (current) Dan River water are probably now well below the recommended max, but the amount that has bioaccumulated in one large fish could be a few hundred times that. Or more.

I guess that works

if you only swim once. What if you swim every day? Drink water (accidentally) every day? What about people who work on the river or live along the banks?

I understand the fish have been in the water when the river was at its worst. I get that. I also know that moving water has natural filters, but the sludge is still there. What happens if it gets churned up? Are the toxins gone or have they just settled? Meh...I won't be swimming in it. :)

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It's quite logical

Queen Aldona's corrupt agency gets to make the determination about the safety of the water that John Skvarla's corrupt agency allows to be polluted.

John Skvarla has a vested interest in declaring that the Dan River is cleaned up, even though objective data shows quite the opposite. They threw darts and decided to declare fish eating is bad but swimming is OK.

It's not about public safety, it's about trying to make Pat look good. Pat doesn't care if you ingest poison while swimming.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

As far as the swimming,

every time someone stands up in the river and/or walks on the silty bottom, they're taking a real good chance of uncovering coal ash and exposing their bare feet to that toxic mixture. Not good.

Here's an idea

Let's invite Pat, Queen Aldona and Scorched-earth Skvarla to be the first waders and swimmers in the Dan River. After they prove the water's fine, the rest of us can come on in.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014