Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fishing in Toxic Evaporation Pond

The Family Fun Fishing event at City Park Lake on June 13 was more than a little ironic. I’d say it was downright diabolical. Here we have the spokespeople from the US Fish and Wildlife Service telling the kids about “point source pollution” while standing next to Ferril Lake, the endpoint for the point source of Lowry Landfill Superfund Site (LLSS) pollution. From deep in the pit underneath more than 3 decades of industrial and government dumping, the water is pumped off-site through 16 miles of pipe to the sewer systems of Denver and Aurora. Here in Denver that sewer system is the source for our “recycled water”. The 158 pollutants and 10 radionuclides from LLSS are not removed by our recycling treatment. Instead they go through a system of purple pipes to Ferril Lake and Grasmere Lake. From there they are sprayed onto the grassy fields. There, by permit, they will collect for the next 46 years, as we are just 4 years into an estimated 50-year period to remove the estimated 138,000,000 gallons of toxic mix. Alarmed by the thought that these kids might be eating the fish they caught, I emailed Al Polonsky, of Denver’s Environmental Health, the always-helpful guy who monitors the lakes for the City of Denver. He wrote back:

Based on what we know about the City’s lakes, I don’t think the risks are particularly higher or lower in Ferril Lake than the other Denver Lakes. I believe the emphasis on this event is to encourage the kids and families to participate in outdoor activities. When these events are held in Denver, the Division of Wildlife stocks the lake with catchable sized trout (~10 inches) prior to the day of the event. These fish have not been in the water long and pose an even lower health risk than fish that have been in the lakes for years. Of course, given the recent renovation, there will not be any fish in the lake that could have been in Ferril for more than two years.
That didn’t help ease my concern. After the talk, the kids all went to the lake and I gave the spokesman a copy of the Pollutant list. He seemed genuinely surprised and said he would look into it. I never heard from him again.


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