Bad Fish Off Cocos

And I’m not talking about that trigger fish that took a chunk out of your skull, Wes. Both KUAM and PDN report that dangerously high levels of PCB’s were found in fish and sediment collected in Cocos Lagoon. The suspected source of the chemicals is a long dismantled Coast Guard installation on Cocos Island. The levels of PCB’s in the fish were 265 times higher than acceptable EPA guidelines, and the soil samples were a whopping 4900 times higher than recommended levels.

What that means is a cancer risk that normally is about one in a million has increased to about one in a thousand, based on the preliminary levels of PCBs found in Cocos Lagoon fish, said Alex Soto, administrator of environmental monitoring and analytical services at Guam EPA.

One in a thousand? Wow, that’s a pretty darn high rate of incidence. Makes me rather leery of eating local fish.

This is only the latest in a series of environmental mishaps caused by Guam’s military installations. There is a similar problem with PCB’s in Mongmong. PCB’s are associated with electrical equipment and the Navy had a power plant in Mongmong until 1995 that used PCB’s as a cooling agent. Fish caught off Agat and Orote Point are contaminated with PCB’s too, the result of chemicals leaching from the Navy’s Orote Point Landfill. And of course the latest brouhaha over the Tiyan housing now includes environmental warnings about lead paint and asbestos in the houses turned over to ancestral landowners. Of course the problem is not isolated to military activities; Guam’s history of military occupation simply makes the armed forces the most likely culprit in environmental cleanups.