Open house held for Orote seafood safety - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Open house held for Orote seafood safety

by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - Thursday night the Navy, USEPA and Guam EPA held an open house about a seafood consumption advisory that's been in place for almost a decade for Orote Point and Rizal Beach.  "We are concerned and that's why Guam EPA and Public Health are not going to take the advisory off, we are keeping it in place," said Lorilee Crisostomo, Guam EPA administrator.

The three agencies presented their findings from the most recent sampling of fish taken near the Orote Landfill to the community last night - part of a four-phase seafood study that has been ongoing by the Navy since their initial findings in 2001, which at that time confirmed that seafood samples from the Orote area contained traces of PCBs, dioxin and chlorinated pesticides at levels deemed unsafe for the public.

Guam EPA spokesperson Gerry Cruz said, "Studies were done in previous years around 2001 and they were comparing the results and basically they are about the same. They were testing and found PCBs in the tissue of the fish, so everyone knows that is carcinogenic."

A member of SSC WesPac and director of Biodax Consulting, Dr. Charles Daxboeck consults on seafood safety for the French Polynesia region and is based in Tahiti, but is on Guam participating in the WesPac meeting that took place earlier today. His advice - to remain cautious and always check where the fish you buy comes from.

He said, "Don't eat fish or at least fish from that area. If you buy fish in the market find out where they are from and try to avoid fish caught in that area. I guess the EPA has only tested parrotfish, but perhaps there are other grazers."  Cruz adds that the ongoing inspections are critical as contaminant sources are continuously being identified.  Previous upgradient groundwater investigation found that there are still traces of chlorinated pesticides or PCBs in the water that gets discharged into the marine environment.

Said Cruz, "This is a partnership with the Navy to hopefully find the sources of contamination, mitigate those sources if its coming from the Orote Point, find out where it's at, if it's from the ocean, where's it coming from the ocean, there's a lot of dynamics when you look at how things get polluted."

Plans are underway to conduct at least one more round of sampling in the next six to seven years to evaluate any trends and determine whether the seafood advisory needs to be changed.

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