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EPA Approves Plan by Northeast States to Lower Mercury Levels in Fish

Release Date: 12/27/2007
Contact Information: Mary Mears, 212-637-3673 or Nancy Grantham, 617-918-1010

(Boston, MA) Today EPA announced the approval of a Northeast states’ plan designed to lower mercury levels in fish throughout New England and New York. The plan calls for a ninety-eight percent reduction from 1998 levels of mercury from atmospheric sources in order to make mercury levels in fish low enough for the states to lift fish consumption advisories.

For several years the Northeast has experienced elevated levels of mercury in certain fish species that has resulted in thousands of fish consumption advisories at lakes and rivers across the region. The approved plan addresses the requirements of the Clean Water Act that require states to develop pollution budgets, or Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), for polluted waters.

Thanks to the high level of collaboration with the Northeast states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission there is now a scientific basis for taking specific actions to ratchet down the release of mercury into water bodies.

To establish the mercury reduction targets each state carefully analyzed fish tissue, evaluated information on atmospheric sources of mercury and estimated the level of reduction needed to meet the target levels in fish. Given the consistency of mercury levels in fish throughout the region, and the regional consistency of mercury inputs from the atmosphere, EPA believes the collaborative approach among the states is a logical and effective way to address the problem.

The plan was reviewed jointly by EPA regional offices in Boston and New York. The establishment of this mercury reduction plan builds on a number of on-going efforts by the Northeast states to lower mercury levels.

More information: How EPA and states use total maximum daily load information to protect waterways (epa.gov/region1/eco/tmdl/index.html)