- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mercury and PCB pollution make it unsafe to eat fish or crawfish from Devil’s Swamp and Bayou Baton Rouge or participate in water activities there, state agencies say.

“This does not affect the area’s drinking water,” John Ford of the state Department of Health and Hospitals noted in an email Thursday. Drinking water comes from an underground aquifer that has tested clean, he said.

The state health department and the departments of Environmental Quality and of Wildlife and Fisheries said Wednesday’s advisory replaces one in effect since 1993 against eating fish from the area more than twice a month because of PCBs.

The PCBs apparently came from a 190-acre hazardous waste site under its original owner, Rollins Environmental Services, but there’s no single source for the mercury, Ford said.

The area was proposed for the Superfund cleanup list in 2004. Though it’s not on the list, a cleanup feasibility study ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency is due at the end of the year, said Jennah Durant, a regional Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman.

“There have not been any removal or cleanup activities as of yet,” she said.

The study is being made by Clean Harbors Inc., a Massachusetts company that bought the facility in 2002, and Baton Rouge Disposal, said Phillip Retallick, Clean Harbors’ senior vice president of compliance and regulatory affairs.

He said the next step will be a study about possible ways to clean up the area.

EPA ordered the feasibility study in 2009, and with another study to come, any cleanup is “still a few years out,” he said.

He said Clean Harbors has completed a state-ordered cleanup of a drainage ditch on its property. That cleanup is not related to the swamp and bayou pollution, said Greg Langley, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality.

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