To the editor:
It has recently been reported that the gonads and livers from fish taken from Polley Lake [Location of tailings pond dam breach] contain higher levels of metals than gonads and livers taken from fish elsewhere in the province, particularly for the element selenium.
However, it should be pointed out that this has a lot more to do with local geology than it does with the recent breach at the Mount Polley tailings pond: Elevated levels are to be expected at this location.
In every corner of the planet, local rocks dictate local soil and water chemistry; and mines, for obvious reasons, are located where rocks contain elevated levels of metals. It should not be a surprise, then, that the metal concentrations in water bodies such as Quesnel and Polley lakes, located near to significant metal deposits, are going to be greater than in bodies of water found elsewhere in the province.
For example, elevated levels of selenium were found in the flesh, gonads and livers of fish taken from Polley Lake long before the dam was breached. These elevated levels were noted in a 2013 report that also showed slightly higher levels of arsenic, copper, manganese and zinc compared to fish from 54 other lakes around the province. However, all of the fish were within the guidelines for human consumption.
Not to put too fine a point on it, the Interior Health Authority and the Ministry of Environment have stated that fish from Quesnel and Polley lakes are safe to eat.
Anyone who is still unsure about eating these fish can remove the liver or gonads before eating. But how many people do you know who actually eat fish livers and fish gonads on a regular basis, if ever?