HARRISBURG >> The Pennsylvania departments of Environmental Protection (DEP), Agriculture (PDA), and Health (DOH), along with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), have issued a “Do Not Eat” advisory for all fish species caught in the Neshaminy Creek basin in Bucks and Montgomery counties due to extremely high levels of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS). The advisory extends to all fish throughout the Neshaminy Creek basin, including Neshaminy Creek State Park in Bensalem and Tyler State Park in Newtown and Northampton townships.
PFOS is one of a group of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkl chemical substances (PFAS) that readily bioaccumulates in fish tissue. Prior to this year, Pennsylvania’s Fish Consumption Advisory Program has been evaluating sport-caught fish in Pennsylvania waters for various contaminants, including PCBs, pesticides, and heavy metals. This past year, Pennsylvania has adopted tiered meal advice for PFOS and has begun collecting and analyzing fish tissue samples for PFOS. Levels detected in fish tissue samples from the Neshaminy Creek watershed had levels over the 0.2 parts per million Do Not Eat advisory level.
As a result of the “Do Not Eat” advisory, the commission will discontinue fish stocking in the Neshaminy Creek basin until further notice. The commission will work to identify nearby replacement waters to redirect trout previously stocked in the basin to provide continued recreational angling opportunities for stocked trout. Fishing is still allowed in the basin, but anglers are urged to practice catch-and-release practices.
The first step in addressing this contamination is identifying sources, several of which have already been identified, including military installation superfund sites. Steps have been taken at these sites to remediate contaminated soils and groundwater. DEP is working to identify additional sources by asking permit holders in the Neshaminy Creek watershed to sample their discharges for PFAS.
“An advisory like this is not something that we recommend lightly,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The possible PFOS levels found in fish tissue is greatly concerning. DEP will continue to sample fish species and revisit this recommendation in the future.”
“Whenever a stream or lake is removed from our trout stocking list, we take every opportunity to keep the fish local and place them in nearby waters for anglers to enjoy,” said Tim Schaeffer, PFBC executive director. “We intend to do the same in this case to preserve the opening day and trout season experiences that are so important and valued in Bucks and Montgomery Counties and across the commonwealth.”
For more information on Neshmainy Creek visit www.dep.pa.gov/neshaminy.