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Officials issue advisory not to eat fish from Kaneohe Bay

Marine Corps aircraft fly over Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on Sept. 30, 2012. Health officials issued a warning on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, that people should avoid eating fish caught in the bay, due to high levels of contaminants from Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay.

KEVIN JONES/U. S. MARINE CORPS

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: December 7, 2017

HONOLULU — Hawaii health officials issued an advisory telling people not to eat fish or shellfish caught in the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii fuel pier and marina area due to unsafe levels of contaminants.

Tests from two species of whole goatfish caught in the area indicate unsafe levels of man-made organic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls, according to the state health department. A sampling of soil in the area also found levels of the contaminant above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state guidelines. The state issued the advisory on Wednesday.

"A single large meal or occasional meals of fish caught in the area are not expected to cause illness from the PCB levels measured by the Navy in whole goatfish," state toxicologist Barbara Brooks said. "However, frequent eating of contaminated fish from the area over a period of months or years may lead to the build-up of PCBs in the body to levels that may put a person at a higher risk for cancer or other diseases."

Higher-risk groups such as pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who are planning a pregnancy and children are especially sensitive to the contaminant.

An ongoing investigation by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has shown the likely sources of the contaminants to be from electrical transformers that may have leaked PCB-containing fluids into the soil at the salvage yard used to store excess construction materials in the 1940s and 1950s.

The advisory will remain in effect until further notice for more extensive sampling.
 

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