Thursday, September 09, 2010

Contaminated Shellfish (As you would expect)

From The Epoch Times:

By any normal examination, nothing seemed off. The oil couldn’t be seen or smelled, but lab tests on the oysters and soil showed the contaminant levels were through the roof.

“We didn’t see anything unusual. That was kind of the disturbing part when we got the results back,” said Lower Mississippi River Keeper Paul Orr, from the Water Keeper Alliance.

Orr went to several sites in the Gulf of Mexico with a team of researchers to take samples of the soil, plants, and sea life. The team has results from two locations and is still waiting on the rest. “When the numbers came back, I was quite surprised they were so high,” Orr said.

What they were looking for were polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—carcinogenic contaminants from the BP oil spill. Since PAHs carry a kind of fingerprint, BP can be traced as the source of some of the contaminated areas.

“We did find it in large quantities in the soil sediment, as well as in vegetation and organisms—oysters and some in the crabs,” said Wilma Subra, a MacArthur Award-winning chemist who conducted the tests.

Subra said that other contaminants were found along with the PAHs, and “we’re not talking parts-per-million or parts-per-billion.” “It was there in substantial concentrations. If you had to test it to determine whether or not that area would be applicable to being harvested, those concentrations were way over the concentration you would ever even consider.”

The team is waiting for results from fish and shrimp samples. Among the team are members of the Gulf Oil Disaster Recovery, Water Keeper Alliance, and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

Many of the locations were investigated following tips from local fishermen who said they could see or smell oil in the areas.

Some Mississippi state waters were reopened to commercial fishing last month. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg released a statement on Aug. 2, saying, “We are confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from the waters being opened today is safe and that Gulf seafood lovers everywhere can be confident eating and enjoying the fish and shrimp that will be coming out of this area.”

Subra said she is concerned that, based on her latest findings, there could still be problems. “They are apparently not testing nearly as many organisms as we would like, and apparently they are not testing in all the areas where we are finding the visual residual oil,” she said.

In some areas, plants were still covered in oil, and a sheen could be seen on the soil. She shared her hope that the findings will lead to further studies into whether the seafood in the Gulf is safe. Other sites have been horrific. Among them was a small island where the ground was littered with dead and dying birds.

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