Monday, November 5, 2007

Mercury Contamination in Dwinnell and other reservoirs

Here's a letter I sent off today. You can find a copy of the study at

From the desk of Felice Pace
28 Maple Road Klamath, Ca 95548 707-482-0354

November 5, 2007

Bob Klamt and Members
North Coast Water Quality Control Board
5550 Skylane Blvd.,Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403 via e-mail:

SUBJECT: 1. Mercury pollution in Dwinnell Reservoir/Shasta River – request for investigation of source and extent.

2. Request for information: polluted sediments in Beaughton Creek

Dear Mr. Klamt:

1. Mercury pollution in Dwinnell Reservoir/Shasta River – request for investigation.

I recently received a copy of the report Mercury Contamination in Fish from Northern California.

Lakes and Reservoirs, California DWR, July 2007 from a member of your staff. The report makes it clear that larger sized fish from Dwinnell Reservoir (aka lake Shastina) have levels of mercury that are far beyond the EPA and State of California levels for health advisories. However, the report also makes it clear that more extensive testing is needed before the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) will issue an advisory:

The number of samples from individual lakes or reservoirs is not sufficient for OEHHA to issue consumption advisories, but this study does provide information to focus future efforts to determine the need for advisories.”

The study also makes it clear that the source of mercury contamination in Dwinnell is unclear. There are no mercury or gold mines upstream of the reservoir and the volcanic soil is not a likely source. The DWR study does suggest that – in watersheds where gold and/or mercury mining did not take place other anthropocentric activities should be investigated:

“Anthropogenic sources of mercury include use in many manufacturing industries and products, such as thermometers, electrical equipment, lamps, dental amalgams,
pharmaceuticals, and fungicides.”

This leads me to wonder if fungicides are in use at upstream manufacturing plants and/or were present in the contamination for the Baxter-Roseburg Superfund site which is also upstream. So, I am asking the NCWQCB to develop and implement a plan that will:

1. Collect and test sufficient samples from Dwinnell to make a determination whether a fish consumption health advisory should be issued for Dwinnell/Shastina.

2. Determine likely sources of the mercury contamination and take appropriate action, if the contamination is ongoing, to end the contamination.

If the staff intends to take these or similar actions please inform me of the details – including the time-line for completion of the needed work. If you do not intend to take these or similar actions then I am asking you to schedule an agenda space at the December Board Meeting in Eureka so that I can present a petition asking the Board to address the issue of mercury contamination at Dwinnell.

I have one more request: Could you have staff who have access to the Baxter-Roseburg Superfund Site files inform me concerning whether mercury contamination was found in the investigations of that site?

As I have informed the Board previously, the area around Dwinnell Reservoir has been developed and there are many children and adults who recreate in, on or on the shores of the Reservoir. I am concerned in particular that some of the children fish in the Reservoir and that they eat the fish. Of great concern is that neither the children nor their parents are likely aware that mercury far in excess of the warning level has been found in fish taken from Dwinnell.

Please let me know if you share my concern and, if so, what you and your staff will do to inform those who may be at risk.

2. Request for information: polluted sediments in Beaughton Creek

On June 4, 2007 I made a request to your predecessor, Ms. Kuhlman, concerning the fate of polluted sediments containing dioxins and other toxic chemicals known to have been in sediments in Beaughton Creek and to have originated at the Baxter-Roseburg Superfund Site. I suggested that it was likely that these sediments had moved downstream to Dwinnell Reservoir. Ms. Kuhlman requested that those responsible for the site perform the tests of the Dwinnell sediments. The responsible parties refused. Subsequently Ms. Kuhlman issued an order for the testing to be done.

I am requesting a written update on the status of that order.

Please share this communication with the board members. Thanks.


(via e-mail)
Felice Pace

Cc: Steve Perlman and Terry Barber (Siskiyou County Health), Alexis Strauss and Kathryn Kuhlman (US EPA), Andy Baker and Matt St. John (NCWQCB), tribal and other interested parties.

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