Study Finds Contaminated Fish From Areas In Marshalls

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

EPA: some sites could exceed US standards 100-fold

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, November 6, 2015) – Fish consumed from popular fishing spots in the Marshall Islands have been found to show high levels of toxic pollutants that could raise the risk of cancer and learning disabilities.

The head of the country's Environmental Protection Authority, Moriana Phillip, says health risks for fish found particularly in the Kwajalein Army base harbour and near the base landfill may exceed U.S standards hundreds of times over.

She says US Army draft reports and the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) have declared the level of health risks to Marshallese to be unacceptable.

Moriana Phillip says health risks to Marshallese, compared to Americans, are multiplied because Marshall Islanders eat the whole fish, including the head where hazardous chemicals can be concentrated, and eat a lot of fish in general.

The Army has posted signage in Marshallese for several years warning against fishing at the base and the Army reports suggest the signage be improved.

U.S. Army scientists also tested fish throughout the atoll, including near the more remote islands of Meck, Illigeni, Ellep and Jerak that are used by the military for missile testing operations, and also found high levels of pollution exceeding U.S. safety standards.

A recent fish tissue study near Ebeye Island, where an estimated 12,000 Marshall Islanders live, has not yet been published.

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