TDEC continues mercury advisory on fish caught in the Nolichucky in Cocke, Hamblen counties

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Environmental officials have decided to maintain an advisory on consuming fish from part of the Nolichucky River due to elevated mercury levels. 

In August 2018, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a precautionary fish consumption advisory for smallmouth bass and channel catfish on the portion of the Nolichucky River in Cocke and Hamblen Counties. The advisory was issued after elevated levels of mercury were detected in fish. 

“A precautionary advisory recommends that pregnant or nursing mothers and children avoid eating the fish species included in the advisory and that all others limit consumption to one meal per month,” the agency said in a news release. “Other recreational activities such as boating, swimming, wading, and catch-and-release fishing carry no risk from mercury.” 

Previous story: Advisory issued against 2 fish species in Northeast Tennessee rivers

TDEC said Tuesday the advisory will remain in effect until future fish testing shows mercury levels lower than 0.3 parts per million.

According to TDEC, coal-fired power plants are the primary contributor behind elevated mercury levels in fish. 

The agency also released data from fish tests conducted in the fall of 2018. 

Testing will resume this summer. 

Fall 2018 Study Results

Fish samples were collected in the Tennessee portion of the Nolichucky River in the fall of 2018 at river mile 8.5 (Hurley Island), at mile 20.9 (Conway Bridge), at mile 68 (David Crockett Birthplace State Park), and at mile 83.9 (off Charlie Carson Road). The results of the 2018 samples for the Nolichucky River are documented in the following tables.

Site Specific Mercury Results (downstream to upstream): 

Hurley Island, Nolichucky River mile 8.5

 

Date Collected

 

Fish Species

 

Sample Type

Number of Fish in Sample

Result (mercury in mg/kg)

Aug. 28, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Individual

1

0.304

Aug. 28, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Individual

1

0.231

Upstream Conway Bridge, Nolichucky River mile 20.9


Date Collected


Fish Species


Sample Type

Number of Fish in Sample

Result (mercury in mg/kg)

Aug. 27, 2018

White crappie

Individual

1

0.183

Aug. 27, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Individual

1

0.193

Aug. 27, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Individual

1

0.195

Aug. 27, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Composite

3

0.121

Oct. 10, 2018

Channel catfish

Composite

2

0.219

Oct. 10, 2018

Channel catfish

Composite

3

0.160

Oct. 10, 2018

Spotted bass

Individual

1

0.348

Oct. 10, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Individual

1

0.207

Oct. 10, 2018

Spotted bass

Individual

1

0.197

Near David Crockett Birthplace State Park, Nolichucky River mile 68


Date Collected


Fish Species


Sample Type

Number of Fish in Sample

Result (mercury in mg/kg)

Aug. 29, 2018

Rockbass

Composite

5

0.161

Aug. 29, 2018

Rockbass

Composite

4

0.168

Aug. 29, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Composite

2

0.159

Oct. 29, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Composite

5

0.225

Near Charlie Carson Road, Nolichucky River mile 83.9


Date Collected


Fish Species


Sample Type

Number of Fish in Sample

Result (mercury in mg/kg)

Aug. 29, 2018

Redbreast sunfish

Composite

4

0.100

Aug. 29, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Individual

1

0.292

Aug. 29, 2018

Smallmouth bass

Composite

4

0.286

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