One-mile stretch of Souhegan River under a no fish consumption advisoryBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
May 22. 2018 9:23PM
MILFORD — Environmental officials have posted signs warning residents not to eat fish from a portion of the Souhegan River where contamination has been a problem.
This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a public advisory stating that “there is an elevated risk to public health from the ingestion of fish contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls in a segment of the Souhegan River.”
According to the agency, there is about a 1-mile section of the river where the contamination is elevated near the former Fletcher’s Paint Works and Storage Facility superfund site; a similar advisory was issued several years ago.
“I would say that this is not a normal situation because we are talking about a superfund site that is adjacent to a river,” Jim Martin, public information officer with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, said on Tuesday.
The river segment with elevated risks, which were determined by previous fish tissue sampling, starts at the Goldman Dam in Milford and ends about 1 mile upriver near Riverway East off Elm Street, according to the EPA advisory.
“EPA advises anglers not to eat, but to catch and release unharmed, any fish caught in this 1-mile segment of the Souhegan River,” states the release, adding EPA will continue collecting and analyzing fish samples from this segment of the river to determine if or when the fish advisory should end.
Drew Hoffman of DES said that based on testing data, areas of the Souhegan River outside of the 1-mile segment do not pose an unacceptable risk of exposure to contamination from the site.
“Fish caught and the samples collected on the fringe of the downstream part of the 1-mile segment and on the upper end did not indicate impact from the site,” said Hoffman.
This is the first time that warning signs have been stationed along that portion of the river, explained Hoffman, who said remediation efforts of contaminated soil and sediment was completed about a year ago in that area of the water.
In light of the public advisory, Martin is reminding all New Hampshire residents about the state’s ongoing fish advisory concerning mercury.
“It has been a while since it has been publicized,” Martin said of the state fish advisory for mercury, which has been in place for more than a decade after legislators passed laws to help keep mercury from entering the environment.
According to the standing advisory, all adults and children over 7-years-old can safely eat four, eight-ounce meals of freshwater fish per month; consumption of bass, pickerel, white perch or yellow perch should be limited to 12 inches or less in length.
There is no limit for saltwater fish, shellfish and commercially available fish for adults and children over 7, however there are limitations for young children and pregnant and nursing women.
Fish from select waterbodies in the state should also be limited, including fish from Ashuelot Pond in Washington, Comerford and Moore Reservoirs on the Connecticut River, Crystal Like in Gilmanton, Dubes Pond in Hooksett, Jackman Reservoir in Hillsborough, Mascoma Lake in Enfield, May Pond in Washington and Tower Hill Pond in Candia.
No fish should be consumed from the Androscoggin River from Berlin to the Maine border because of potential dioxin contamination, according to the long-standing advisory.