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Mercury levels in Rogue will spur state tests

By Mark Freeman
Mail Tribune

The Rogue and about a dozen other Oregon rivers are poised to join the state's growing list of mercury-impaired waters

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The Rogue and about a dozen other Oregon rivers are poised to join the state's growing list of mercury-impaired waters tapped for future cleanups and other efforts to reduce levels of this toxic pollutant.

The state Department of Environmental Quality has proposed adding the 216 miles of the Rogue River — including the main stem upstream of Lost Creek Lake — as well as Emigrant Creek — on the dubious list of water bodies with high levels of mercury in resident fish.

The findings also are expected to lead to public-health advisories limiting the amounts of resident fish people eat from Rogue Basin waters. But those won't include the Rogue's famed salmon and steelhead, which don't accumulate mercury in their bodies like other fish do, toxicologists say.

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Forrest English, of the Rogue Riverkeeper program, which is the water-quality arm of KS Wild in Ashland, said the levels of mercury clearly will have people questioning their fish consumption. He wants to see the mercury surveys expanded to include tributaries.

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