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Do Not Eat Fish from Shenango River in Mercer & Lawrence Counties Advisory

Anglers Warned to Not Eat Fish from Shenango River

PCB risk from all species

The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection (DEP), and Health (DOH) along with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced in 2017 a “Do Not Eat” advisory for all fish species caught in the Shenango River in Mercer and Lawrence Counties due to extremely high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). The advisory extends to all fish between the Shenango Lake Dam and the mouth of the Shenango River in New Castle, PA.

"PCBs are a class of chemical compounds that are hazardous to the health of fish and humans so anglers are strongly encouraged to avoid consuming any species of fish that are caught in this reach of the Shenango River,” said PFBC. “We are very concerned about the fate and effects of PCBs since they have an extremely long environmental half-life and will remain in the river for decades if not properly cleaned up and disposed of."

A “Do Not Eat” advisory was already in effect for the river for muskellunge, carp, and channel catfish, and the new advisory now includes all other game fish like smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill, and walleye. PCBs have been shown to cause a wide range of adverse health effects and cancer. There are a number of serious non-cancer health effects in animals including effects on immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system and other organs.

Tissue samples taken from fish found some levels of PCB to be more than 22 mg/kg in smallmouth bass, which is more than 10 times the “No Consumption” advisory level of 1.9 mg/kg.

DEP has been working with EPA and others to determine the sources of the contamination and how to remediate it, which has focused primarily on EPA’s Westinghouse Sharon Superfund Site (Site). Westinghouse, now Paramount Global (Paramount), has conducted groundwater, sediment, and fish tissue sampling on and near the Site. In Fall of 2023, Paramount, with EPA and DEP oversight, completed a dredging project within the Shenango River to remove PCB-contaminated sediments adjacent to the Site.

DEP and Paramount will continue to conduct fish tissue sampling routinely to monitor the effects of the remediation efforts on the fish species in this area of the Shenango River.

The Fish and Boat Commission will not stock trout in Shenango River Section 04 until further notice. The agency will continue to work to identify another nearby waterbody to provide recreational trout fishing opportunities for anglers.

DEP has also coordinated all activities with the public water suppliers that withdraw water from this area of the river. These water suppliers have and continue to conduct routine monitoring to ensure ongoing compliance with the drinking water standards for PCBs.