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Chemical remains pose health hazards to fish, migrant fishermen

Chemical remains pose health hazards to fish, migrant fishermen

Picture of Eduardo A. de Oliveira

Chemical remains pose health hazards to fish, migrant fishermenFor decades the Nyanza Color & Chemical plant manufactured dye and textile chemicals in Ashland, Massachusetts. The site was settled in a populated area and was first identified as a hazard in 1971, when pollution was found in the nearby Sudbury River, once considered as a potential source of drinking water for the Boston area. In 1982 the site was put on the Superfund National Priority List and shut down. Over 45,000 tons of chemical sludge had been generated by the waste water treatment processes. After the plant's closing the local Board of Health identified traces of mercury in the waters of at least 8 rivers that cut through five cities and towns. Shortly after, the area started to receive an influx of migrant workers, especially from Brazil and other parts of Latin America. Although some rivers display a warning sign in three languages about fish contamination, many of migrant fishermen claimed in a recent interview to be unaware of the health hazard they face. With the National Health Journalism Fellowship's support, I will develop a series of articles that will be a result of an investigation with local and federal authorities and residents, as well as focus of an ambitious public health campaign.

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