COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Shared almost 500 times on Facebook as of Monday night, the Kalamazoo River Alliance is sounding the alarm on the DNR’s most recently updated Eat Safe Fish guide.
From Morrow Dam to the Allegan Dam, the guide lists all species in the Kalamazoo River considered unsafe to eat due to PCBs.
With cleanup beginning in June, Kalamazoo River Alliance President Ryan Baker said the contamination from the superfund site has already affected the whole food chain.
“It starts off with your little guys, like crustaceans and bait fish, then the bigger fish eat those fish, then the bigger fish eat those fish, then eventually, people eat those fish,” Baker explained.
Baker said the carcinogenic compound is stored in the fatty liver of the fish and if consumed, can lead to serious problems.
“Multiple different types of cancer are linked to it. Immune system, reproductive health … there’s multiple, multiple health issues,” Baker said.
However, Baker said this doesn’t mean visitors cannot get in the river this summer, as some activities are considered relatively safe.
“If you want to go kayaking, it’s fine. Canoeing, tubing is even fine,” Baker said. “The trick with PCBs is they tend to collect in … sediment deposits. They’re typically buried, not always … into the sediment, so you don’t want to go running around through the muckiest part of the river.”
Catch-and-release fishing is also on the list, which is good news for fishermen like Jerry Jackson and his son Jaelyn.
“The fun is when you hook him, and he’s trying to get off,” Jackson said. “I hooked a bass up the other day. He went up in the air … we love it.”
With the superfund site stretching more than 80 miles, the EPA’s remedial project manager said there are a lot of unknowns in pinpointing exactly when cleanup is expected to be done but added it’ll be at least past 2030.