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Editor's Notebook

Two-Headed Trout

by Ross Purnell, Editor   |  March 14th, 2012 0
Two-Headed Trout

Selenium pollution is known to cause "chronic deformities" like this two-headed trout but the J.R. Simplot Company has asked the EPA for permission to allow selenium levels in trout more than twice the national standard.

In May 2007 Fly Fisherman published a story by Marv Hoyt called “The Selenium Threat.” In that article, the author explained how the proposed  expansion of J.R. Simplot Company’s Smoky Canyon phosphate mine could poison Sage, Deer, and Crow creeks, and the Salt River downstream of the mine site.

In the ensuing years, proposals have become reality and the mine site has expanded.

And now selenium pollution has hit the mainstream media after researchers studying  the effects of the selenium pollution found a two-headed juvenile trout just downstream from the mine site.

Simplot has asked the Environmental Protection Agency for an exemption that would allow selenium in the creeks near the mine to remain at current levels, and is arguing that brown trout can support selenium levels of 13 to 14 parts per million in their tissue. The EPA requires selenium levels below 7.9 million parts per million in all organisms to protect against “chronic deformities” which can put species at risk.

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