Rio Grande Valley Residents Have Been Eating Toxic Fish for Decades

For more than two decades, both state and federal officials have clearly understood that the fish populating the Donna Reservoir and Canal System in the Rio Grande Valley area are a major health risk. Although the water itself in the Valley has been declared safe by environmental researchers, the fish are a different matter altogether. Officials have no answers as to why the fish seem to be retaining chemicals that are known to cause cancer in their bodies even as the water does not.

Cancer Causing Fish in the Water

Many of the residents of the area were surprised to receive a knock on the door from state health officials and a flyer saying that fish in the area were not safe to eat. Fishermen are not the only people who were affected; anyone who ordered fish from the local restaurants were also at risk.
The lakes in the area have been granted Superfund status by the government, a special status that is reserved for the country’s worst hazard sites. Officials are at a loss when it comes to cleaning up the fish currently. Although the Superfund status makes it illegal to fish in the lakes, there has been no public campaign to make sure that the people of Rio Grande Valley know the situation fully until now. The lake remains one of the most popular fishing spots for recreational and professional fishermen, and the miles of shoreline ensure that there are plenty of fish being caught.

Birth Defects in 1993

The government first found the cancerous chemicals as a part of the investigation into birth defects in the area. Although no clear connection was made between the high level of neural tube defects and the chemicals in the fish, the investigators found that the fish were clearly dangerous. The fish were shown to have high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, chemicals used in manufacturing and electric plants and equipment. These chemicals were banned years ago because of their carcinogens. The levels of carcinogens in the fish around the area were high enough to affect even recreational eaters of the fish, and people who ate them as little as 42 times a year were at risk.

Unenforced Solutions

The state enacted a fish possession ban in 1994. However, this protective measure did not protect anyone, as the relatively small fine has done very little to keep people from fishing, when it is imposed at all. As for trying to find the cause of the carcinogens, there have been no truly comprehensive studies since 1994. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a total of one game warden patrolling the entire 400 acre lakeshore, and this one warden has no set schedule.

The EPA has placed a few signs about the situation in the area, and these signs are defaced and destroyed on a regular basis. Although the Texas Department of State Health Services conducts presentations, these presentations are impossible to give to the large amount of tourists that find their way into the area. The Rio Grande Valley is also a highly transient place, with new families moving into the area all of the time.

What is the Next Move for Your Family’s Safety?

If you believe that you or your loved ones is suffering from the dangerous chemical waste that is being retained by the fish from the Donna Reservoir and Canal System in the Rio Grande Valley, then do not hesitate to call the chemical injury attorneys at GOM Law. You may have a case and damages to collect, and you need to know all of your rights. Your first visit with GOM Law is a free consultation with no obligation at all to move forward, so please give the office a call immediately. You may just save the life of someone who is very important to you.

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