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Niagara River Area of Concern Fish Tumors Impairment Removal

Draft Proposal Available for Comment

DEC is accepting public comments on a draft beneficial use impairment removal proposal (PDF, 1.22 MB) for the Niagara River AOC's Fish Tumors or Other Deformities impairment. The proposal is based on the results of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) study showing that fish tumors are no longer occurring at an elevated rate in the Niagara River. The study, which focused on liver tumors in brown bullhead catfish, found no significant difference between tumor rates in the Niagara River and an uncontaminated reference site, Long Point Inner Bay (Ontario) on Lake Erie.

USFWS carried out the study to evaluate whether Fish Tumors or Other Deformities continues to be a beneficial use impairment on the U.S. side of the Niagara River Area of Concern. DEC originally determined the impairment to be present on the U.S. side of the Niagara River based on evidence from studies conducted in the 1980s of higher than normal tumor rates in the river's fish.

In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a new fish tumor study because of the amount of time that had passed since the original studies. During this span of time contaminant levels in the Niagara River had fallen significantly. Five of 150 bullhead collected from the Niagara River for the study were found to have liver tumors. An analysis that took into account the age and gender of the sampled fish showed that the tumor rate within the Niagara River AOC is statistically equivalent to the rate at Long Point Inner Bay.

Based on the results of the USFWS study, DEC is preparing to submit the formal beneficial use impairment removal proposal to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Comments on the draft proposal may be submitted by mail or e-mail to Mark Filipski using the contact information to the right.

DEC will also accept comments at a public meeting to be held from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25 at the Grand Island Memorial Library, 1715 Bedell Road, Grand Island.

All comments must be received by September 11, 2015. DEC will review these comments as it finalizes the impairment removal proposal.


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