Arsenic Levels in American Fork River Fish are Down

Arsenic Levels in American Fork River Fish are Down

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Arsenic levels in fish in the American Fork River are down, prompting the Forest Service to lift a 2001 fish-consumption advisory, a Trout Unlimited official said.

Ted Fitzgerald, a former Forest Service official now with Trout Unlimited, told Utah County's Council of Governments Thursday night the upper reaches of the river will be removed from the Impaired Rivers List but the lower reaches will remain on the list.

In 1999, the Forest Service sent fish samples to a lab for analysis, Fitzgerald said. There was a high concentration of metals found in the fish, and the arsenic concentration was high enough to make the fish unsafe for human consumption. Lead levels are were a problem in the river, but did not lead to the consumption advisory.

In 2002, about 30 fish were collected for another round of tests, Fitzgerald said. In that case, levels of arsenic in the fish were found to be at 5 percent, not the 10 percent officials had expected.

Although the fish are now safe to eat and part of the river has been removed from the Impaired Rivers List, Trout Unlimited is still working to improve the water quality by cleaning up abandoned mines in the canyon.

The Forest Service has finished an $800,000 cleanup project on five mine sites in the canyon, but only on government-owned land, Fitzgerald said.

It has no jurisdiction over contaminated private property.

Trout Unlimited is trying to bring private property owners together to clean up three major sites, he said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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