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Fish Tissue Results from Silver Lake in Pittsfield

Release Date: 06/14/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Angela Bonarrigo, Community Affairs Office, (617) 918-1034

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2005; Release # ab050603

PITTSFIELD - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MADFW), in coordination with EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) have released a report detailing PCB levels in tissue from fish collected from Silver Lake in Pittsfield in October 2004.

A variety of species including, largemouth bass, yellow perch, white sucker, pumpkinseed sunfish, and golden shiner, were collected using boat electro-shocking methods. Whole body fish tissue from each species, in a range of representative size classes, was submitted for PCB analysis. Fish tissue results showed a range of total PCB concentrations from 24 - 168 parts per million (ppm). Fish tissue concentrations were predictably related to size class and feeding strategy.

This investigation confirms that although PCB levels in Silver Lake fish are elevated, they remain lower than the levels found in similar species of fish from the Housatonic River. Further study is necessary to decide if complete removal of the fish community, before placement of the cap, will be necessary, as originally stated in the Consent Decree.

FWS and MA DFW will conduct a one-day follow-up survey later this summer or fall to gather additional information on the relative numbers and size classes per species present in the lake. This information will be used to help determine the relative PCB biomass in the lake and the composition of the future fish community after cap placement.

The 26-acre lake is one of 25 areas outside the Housatonic River that are being evaluated for cleanup as part of the General Electric (GE) Pittsfield/Housatonic River remediation project. Historic GE plant discharges to Silver Lake have resulted in substantial PCB contamination of the lake sediments. The Consent Decree between the government and GE, requires GE to remove 400 cubic yards of the most highly contaminated sediments from a small section of the lake and then cap the entire lake bottom.

A copy of the fish tissue analytical report will soon be available for public review at the Berkshire Athenaeum and on the world wide web at www.epa.gov/ne/ge . Questions on this project can be directed to Kenneth Munney of FWS at 603-223-2541, ext.19.