OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 9, 2010 -- Fish exposed to fly ash at the site of the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill are faring better than some expected, researchers have learned.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with TVA has found that while small amounts of some contaminants from the December 2008 fly ash spill have been taken up by fish in the Clinch and Emory rivers, to-date, the fish collected downstream from the spill appear healthy relative to fish from unimpacted sites.
"We are looking to see if there has been an effect on overall fish health and reproductive condition, and so far, such effects have not been evident," said Mark Peterson, leader of ORNL Environmental Sciences Division's Ecological Assessment Team and the Aquatic Ecology Laboratory.
After the spill deposited 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash into the Emory River and an embayment adjacent to the Kingston Fossil Plant, the public was concerned that the ash and associated chemicals, particularly arsenic and selenium, could be a health hazard to local residents and also to fish and wildlife.
Likewise, Peterson and a team of ecologists in ESD, including Marshall Adams, Mark Greeley and John Smith, were interested in seeing whether trace components of the ash such as selenium, which has been found to be toxic to fish and wildlife in large amounts would be found in insect and fish populations immediately following the spill and for some time after the spill.
A team led by Adams was able to get into the field quickly and collected fish as early as February 2009 at sites both downstream and upstream from the spill. Species tested for contaminant uptake and fish health include bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish, white crappie and gizzard shad.
It is the experience assessing the legacy of contaminant deposits in the Clinch River and Watts Bar Reservoir from Department of Energy activities decades ago that prov
|Contact: Katie Freeman|
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory