Analysis: No Increase of Mining Contaminants in Koocanusa Fish Tissue Samples

News Type: State, Regional, Federal Source: Flathead Beacon
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Researchers tracking the influx of mining contaminants in Lake Koocanusa say their recent analysis of fish muscle-tissue samples shows no significant increase in the concentrations of a pollutant called selenium, which is leaching from Canadian coalmines downstream and into the trans-boundary reservoir.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, muscle-tissue samples from 10 species of fish in Lake Koocanusa collected in May of this year are consistent with sampling done in 2013, showing no increase during that five-year period.

The data is a departure from the results of fish-tissue samples collected in 2008 and again in 2013, which showed increasing trends in elevated selenium levels. During that five-year period, Trevor Selch, a water pollution biologist for FWP, tracked increases of selenium in muscle-tissue concentrations at rates of between 21 and 70 percent, a trend he described as “alarming.”