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Hundreds of Fish to be
Checked for Hanford Pollution

by Associated Press
KOMO News, August 9, 2009

Hanford city site on Columbia River (by Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth) RICHLAND, Wash. - Hundreds of fish are being caught in the Columbia River as part of the cleanup efforts at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

The Tri-City Herald reports the U.S. Department of Energy wants to check how contamination from Hanford has affected the Columbia River's fish.

Plans call for 530 fish to be caught and tested in labs. Their organs will be tested for any Hanford chemicals or radionuclides that could harm anyone eating the fish.

Environmental Assessment Services of Richland has been contracted to fish the waters. They are using commercial fishing techniques to catch as many fish possible. This past week they fished for sturgeon and walleye, but they have also caught bass and whitefish. One hundred carp and suckers are next on the list of fish they need to catch.

The fishing teams are keeping only fish that are 43 to 54 inches long. On a recent morning, many of the hooks set were empty, including one that was pulled nearly straight. The largest sturgeon caught was more than 9 feet long and was returned to the water.

"Most of the oversize fish straighten out the hook, which is what we want," said Bruce Curet of Environmental Assessment Services.

Crews will use electrofishing to catch some of the fish. That technique includes running an electric current into the water from a boat to stun the fish.

But walleyes need to be caught with a fishing pole. The crew from Environmental Assessment Services has caught 27 and will continue fishing until they reach 100.

The collection of fish is part of a comprehensive study of Hanford. It also includes sampling of river water, soil on Hanford islands and sediment from the river.

The findings will go into final cleanup plans for land around Hanford.

Associated Press
Hundreds of Fish to be Checked for Hanford Pollution
KOMO News, August 9, 2009

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