Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hogans and Long Branch Just Aren't Clean Enough; Officials Warn: Do Not Eat What You Catch There

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hogans and Long Branch Just Aren't Clean Enough; Officials Warn: Do Not Eat What You Catch There

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Patterson

Tests of fish that were contaminated by pesticides or fuel residue triggered warnings Wednesday for fishermen to not eat their catch from two Jacksonville creeks.

The Duval County Health Department and the city asked fishermen to forgo largemouth bass and striped mullet from Hogans Creek, as well as bass and blue tilapia from Long Branch Creek.

Fish from Long Branch had disturbing levels of dieldrin, a substance used to kill insects. And fish from Hogans Creek had ingested buildups of carbon compounds that can come from tars and burned gasoline.

None of this totally surprised people familiar with the creeks that bracket an area running from Springfield to the city's Talleyrand area and the downtown waterfront where shipyards once stood.

"I would kind of expect it out of those creeks, only because it's in a kind of heavy industrial area," said Bill Lamb, who co-owns Arlington Bait & Tackle across the St. Johns River. "Before there were [environmental] regulations, that area was really heavily used."

In Confederate Park, a loyal angler slipping bread onto a fishhook said no-fishing signs should be posted along Hogans Creek.

"This water's pretty bad. I'm not going to lie," said the 30-year-old fisherman who would only tell a reporter his first name was Tim. He said he catches mullet, tilapia, catfish, sometimes turtles in the park, but normally releases them because he doesn't think they're fit to eat.

"There's oil in the water," he said.

Indeed, the park he has visited for 14 years includes areas where, a century earlier, a factory for cooking natural gas out of coal dumped debris loaded with fuel residues that carry the awkward scientific name polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

That debris was never removed, and state and federal agencies have labeled the area as contaminated.

A family of similar residues, called PAHs, were found in fish from Hogans at levels 60 to nearly 90 times higher than a no-hazard threshold the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses.

It was EPA that tested fish in both creeks after people in the neighborhoods asked whether fishing there was safe. …

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