DNREC, DHSS issue new fish consumption advisories reflecting significant improvements in New Castle County

DOVER –Updated consumption advisories for fish caught in Delaware waterways show some of the most significant improvements in fish tissue contaminant concentrations since the state began assessing contaminants in fish in 1986, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health (DHSS/DPH) announced today. Fish consumption advisories are recommendations to limit or avoid eating certain fish caught in local waters that alert people to the potential health risks of eating contaminated fish. The latest advisories come from recent data collected and analyzed from fish caught in New Castle County waterways.

“Overall, the updated advisories are good news for an area of our state that has historically been challenged by the impacts of legacy contaminants,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “The improvements we’re seeing indicate that collaborative efforts among state, federal, local, and industry partners to address contaminants, along with DNREC’s innovative toxics assessment and restoration projects, are making a difference. This progress is also the result of significant investments in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and cleanup technologies. If we are to achieve our goal to accelerate the cleanup of remaining contaminants and restore our waterways in the shortest time possible, we will need the technical and financial resources to make that happen.”

Less restrictive advisories were issued for seven waterways – the tidal and non-tidal Christina River, Little Mill Creek, tidal Brandywine River, tidal White Clay Creek, and upstream and downstream portions of Shellpot Creek – a result of long-term improvements in reducing contaminants in fish caught in these waterways. A more restrictive advisory was issued for Red Clay Creek due to higher levels of some contaminants, while the advisories for two waterways, the non-tidal Brandywine River and non-tidal White Clay Creek, were unchanged and remain the same as for 2015.

“I applaud DNREC’s continuing efforts to clean up our state’s waterways, which, in turn, reduces the restrictions on fish consumption,” said DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf. “The Division of Public Health would like to remind everyone that consuming fish is an important part of a healthy diet because they contain high-quality proteins along with other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. This updated advice will help all of us make informed healthy decisions about the right amount and right kinds of fish that our families should eat from Delaware’s waterways.”

Many of the contaminants that prompt fish advisories in Delaware are “legacy pollutants” – chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the banned insecticide DDT, and dioxins and furans that were released into waterways in significant quantities in the past. These legacy pollutants are slow to break down in the environment and can accumulate in fish and in bottom sediments of lakes, streams and estuaries.

The improvements in consumption advisories are largely the result of declining PCB concentrations in fish. Tidal areas of the Christina and Brandywine Rivers and Shellpot Creek, historically some of the most contaminated areas in the state, have shown decreases of PCB concentrations of 50 to 60 percent in the last eight years. The reduction in PCB levels is attributed to several efforts, including state-of-the-science testing to identify, prioritize, and control remaining sources of contaminants and to innovative clean-up strategies, including adding activated carbon and quicklime to sediments that bind contaminants and limit their transfer to the water and fish. In addition, DNREC and its partners, including the Delaware River Basin Commission, New Castle County Special Services, the City of Wilmington, state environmental agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and industrial facilities, have been working cooperatively on strategies and projects that implement the Delaware Estuary total maximum daily load (TMDL) pollution limits, since first established in 2003.

The latest advisories encompass New Castle County waterways and include:

Tidal Christina River. The advisory for the Tidal Christina River between Smalley’s Dam (near Christiana) to the Delaware River was updated to less-restrictive advice that includes two areas:

  • Area upstream of the Peterson Wildlife Refuge to Smalleys Dam. Less restrictive advisory:
    The current advice of “eat no fish” caught from this area has been revised to “eat no more than 12 eight-ounce meals of fish per year.” The advice also applies to Nonesuch Creek, a tidal tributary of the Christina. This increase in allowable fish consumption is significant and can be attributed to improved water quality flowing from the non-tidal portion of the Christina River into the upper tidal portion of the River. PCBs are the primary contaminant of concern.
  • Area between the Peterson Wildlife Refuge downstream to where the Christina River empties into the Delaware River. Less restrictive advisory:
    For the general adult population, the current advice of “eat no fish” has been updated to “eat no more than one eight-ounce meal of fish per year.” The modest easing of the advice is largely attributed to falling concentrations of PCBs – approximately 50 percent from 2007 to 2015. The new advice for this area is consistent with the tidal Delaware River, into which the Christina River flows. Despite improvements in PCBs, they remain the primary contaminant of concern.

Non-Tidal Christina River. Less restrictive advisory:

The non-tidal Christina River runs from its headwaters north and west of Newark downstream to Smalleys Dam. The existing advice of “eat no more than six eight-ounce meals of fish” has been doubled to “eat no more than 12 meals per year.” The single contaminant of concern is Dieldrin, a chemical that was used in the past as an insecticide for termite control. PCBs and chlordane are no longer contaminants of concern.

Little Mill Creek. Less restrictive advisory:

A tributary of the Christina River, Little Mill Creek’s headwaters are in Greenville. The Creek flows southward through Elsmere, Canby Park, and the Peterson Wildlife Refuge and empties into the tidal Christina south of Wilmington.

The existing fish consumption advisory is to “eat no fish.” New data and assessment found that the current advice can be less stringent and has been revised to “eat one eight-ounce meal of fish per year.” The chemicals of concern include PCBs and chlorinated pesticides. Revising the advisory to “one meal per year” is consistent with the recommended advice for the lower reach of the tidal Christina into which the Little Mill Creek flows.

Tidal Brandywine River. Less restrictive advisory:

The Brandywine River is the largest tributary of the Christina River. The tidal Brandywine covers the area between Baynard Boulevard in Wilmington downstream to its confluence with the Christina River.

The existing fish consumption advisory is to “eat no fish.” The advice is being increased to “eat no more than two eight-ounce meals of fish per year.” The primary chemical of concern continues to be PCBs, however, PCB concentrations in fish have dropped significantly – approximately 59 percent from 2007 to 2015. The reduction is the result of steady cleanup efforts at the Amtrak former fueling facility in Wilmington and other projects. DNREC and the EPA are working with Amtrak on a plan to fully remediate the site, with the goal of further easing the fish advisory in the future.

Non-Tidal Brandywine. No change in existing advisory:

The non-tidal Brandywine runs from the Delaware/Pennsylvania state line to the head of tide near Baynard Boulevard in Wilmington. The data and assessment supports keeping the existing advice to “eat no more than six eight-ounce meals of fish per year.”

Tidal White Clay Creek. Less restrictive advisory:

The lower three miles of the White Clay Creek are tidal between the mouth of the creek and Route 4 in Stanton. Hershey Run, which has a history of contamination, flows into the tidal White Clay Creek. The advisory was updated from “eat no fish” to “eat no more than one eight-ounce meal of fish per year.” PCBs remain the primary contaminant of concern.

Non-Tidal White Clay Creek. No change in existing advisory:

The non-tidal White Clay Creek originates in Chester County, Pennsylvania and flows into Delaware north of the City of Newark. The existing advice of “eat no more than 12 eight-ounce meals of fish per year” is being retained and the primary contaminant continues to be PCBs.

Red Clay Creek. More restrictive advisory:

The Red Clay Creek, which has a long history of contamination in Pennsylvania and Delaware, flows into Delaware south of Kennett Square, Pa. and north of Yorklyn, Del. New data and assessment found that the recommended meal advice needs to be more stringent – from “eat no more than six meals per year” to “eat no more than three meals per year.” PCBs and dioxins and furans are retained as contaminants of concern and chlorinated pesticides added.

In recent years, fish caught near the Pennsylvania/Delaware state line have shown an increase in the concentration of the banned insecticide, DDT, and its breakdown products, suggesting the source or sources of this contamination may be in Pennsylvania. DNREC and environmental officials in Pennsylvania are working cooperatively to assess and control the contamination. Follow-up actions will include sampling areas for contamination to confirm that sources are being controlled.

Shellpot Creek. The headwaters of Shellpot Creek are located near Talleyville and its outlet is in the far eastern portion of Wilmington, just north of the Cherry Island landfill. The advisory was updated to less-restrictive advice that includes two areas:

  • Upstream of Governor Printz Boulevard. Less restrictive advisory:
    The current advice of “eat not more than one eight-ounce meal of fish per year” has been revised to “eat not more than two eight-ounce meals per year.” The contaminant of concern is Dieldrin and its presence in the creek upstream of Governor Printz Boulevard is likely the result of heavy usage of Dieldrin in the past, primarily as an insecticide to control termites.
  • Downstream of Governor Printz Boulevard. Less restrictive advisory:
    The current advice of “eat no fish” has been revised to “eat no more than one eight-ounce meal of fish per year.” Although PCBs continue to be the primary chemical of concern, concentrations of PCBs have dropped significantly in waters downstream of Governor Printz Boulevard, a result of less pollution entering the Creek and improvements in the Delaware River.

In addition to the advisories mentioned above, DNREC and DHSS remind the public of the general statewide fish consumption advisory issued in 2007:

  • Eat no more than one meal per week of any fish caught in Delaware’s fresh, estuarine and marine waters. This advisory applies to all waters and fish species not otherwise explicitly covered by an advisory.

The statewide advisory is issued in an abundance of caution to protect against eating large amounts of fish or fish that have not been tested, or that may contain unidentified chemical contaminants. Delaware issues more stringent advice for specific waters when justified by the data. One meal is defined as an eight-ounce serving for adults and a three-ounce serving for children.

People who choose to eat fish caught in Delaware waters in spite of the consumption advisories can take steps to reduce exposure. Contaminants tend to concentrate in the fatty tissue, so proper cleaning and cooking techniques can significantly reduce levels of PCBs, dioxins, chlorinated pesticides and other organic chemicals. Larger fish tend to have higher concentrations. To reduce the amount of chemical contaminants being consumed:

  • Remove all skin
  • Slice off fat belly meat along the bottom of the fish
  • Cut away any fat above the fish’s backbone
  • Cut away the V-shaped wedge of fat along the lateral line on each side of the fish
  • Bake or broil trimmed fish on a rack or grill so some of the remaining fat drips away
  • Discard any drippings; do not eat drippings or use them for cooking other foods.

However, consumers are cautioned that these techniques will not reduce or remove unsafe levels of mercury from fish.

A chart which shows all fish consumption advisories for Delaware waters, including the revised advisories issued today, can be found on DNREC’s web site. The revised advisories will be reflected in the 2017 Delaware Fishing Guide available at tackle shops and fishing license dealers.

For more information, contact Dr. Richard Greene, DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship, 302-739-9939.

Visit the following U.S. government websites for information on federal fish consumption advisories, on mercury in fish and shellfish, and on how to safely select and serve fresh and frozen fish.

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Media Contacts:

Vol. 46, No. 209

DNREC to hold public hearing Wednesday, June 8 in Millville on Statewide Activity Approval process for Delaware shellfish aquaculture activities

DOVER – The DNREC Division of Water’s Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section will conduct a public hearing Wednesday, June 8 to solicit input on the proposed Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) for shellfish aquaculture in specific, designated shellfish aquaculture development areas (SADA) in Delaware. The hearing will start at 6 p.m. at the Millville Fire Hall, 35554 Atlantic Ave, Millville, DE 19970.

The SAA, if adopted by DNREC, would be used by the Division of Water to more efficiently issue approvals for the use of subaqueous lands after shellfish aquaculture lease applicants have received authorization from the Division of Fish & Wildlife for shellfish aquaculture activities within specific portions of the SADAs previously established under 7 DE Admin Code 3800 Shellfish Aquaculture Regulation. The public is advised that the upcoming hearing will address only the use of the SAAs by the Division of Water to more efficiently review applications and issue permits – the state’s shellfish aquaculture regulation is not the subject of this hearing.

The SADAs eligible for approval by the Statewide Activity Approval, with their parenthetical designations, include Indian River Bay (IR-A), Rehoboth Bay (RB-A, RB-B, RB-C), and Little Assawoman Bay (LA-B in part and LA-D), specifically.

DNREC had previously published public notice of the proposed Statewide Activity Approval, accepting public comments on the SAA process during the March 23 – April 12, 2016 comment period. Subsequently, the Department determined that the public interest warranted holding the upcoming public hearing on the SAA, according to Wetlands & Subaqueous Lands Administrator Steven Smailer.

Anyone wishing to comment on the proposed SAA may present written statements through the close of the public comment period, which has been reopened and extended until the conclusion of the June 8 public hearing. Interested parties may also present comment orally or in written form at the hearing. Persons who want to speak at the public hearing are encouraged to register through DNREC’s hearing officer Robert Haynes in advance and no later than June 6. This registration will be used to determine the order of speakers at the public hearing.

Registration and any written comments should be sent either by emailing Robert.Haynes@delaware.gov or by mail to:

Robert P. Haynes, Esq.
Senior Hearing Officer
Office of the Secretary
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
P.O. Box 1401
89 Kings Highway,
Dover, DE 19901

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 204

DNREC’S Community Involvement Advisory Council to hold public workshop Monday, April 25 in Milton on concerns over Allen Harim Foods LLC’s Harbeson plant improvements and operational issues

DOVER – DNREC’s Community Involvement Advisory Council (CIAC) will hold an informational public workshop Monday, April 25 to address the ongoing concerns of Harbeson area residents related to improvements to the Allen Harim Foods LLC poultry processing facility’s wastewater treatment plant and other operational issues. The workshop will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Milton Fire Hall, 116 Front Street, Milton, DE 19968.

The workshop was scheduled in response to residents’ concerns that a previous DNREC public hearing about the Allen Harim plant should have been held in Milton, which is closer in proximity to the Harbeson facility, than in Millsboro, where the hearing was held last November. The concerns surfaced in two separate community meetings and caught the attention of local elected officials and Joseph G. Farrell, a Sussex County representative who serves on the CIAC.

According to comments from Mr. Farrell in the CIAC’s December 2015 and February 2016 bi-monthly meetings, questions about the hearing location, along with lingering concerns about environmental issues, might lead the public to question the integrity of the Department and the state’s public hearing process. The CIAC approved a motion from Mr. Farrell to convene a CIAC-sponsored public workshop at the council’s February meeting.

In response to his motion, Mr. Farrell and DNREC staff met directly with leaders of the Harbeson Community Improvement Association to receive their input in planning the April 25 public workshop. That meeting revealed the residents’ concern over operational issues such as odors, plant traffic and debris which could only be experienced by people living near the facility.

James Brunswick, DNREC community ombudsman, said the CIAC is fulfilling its mission by hosting the informational public workshop. He also noted that the workshop is for informational purposes only and the proceedings will not be included in any record associated with DNREC permitting decisions.

DNREC’s Community Involvement Advisory Council is established under 29 Delaware Code 8016A. Among the duties of the Council are to increase the flow of information between communities and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and to facilitate a dialogue among all stakeholders in the decision making process.

Media Contact: James Brunswick, DNREC Community Ombudsman, 302-739-9040

Vol. 46, No. 138

To help reduce mosquito populations and the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, DNREC urges residents to eliminate sources of backyard standing water

mosquito control logoDOVER – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Mosquito Control Section urges Delaware residents to “Fight the Bite!” by helping reduce local mosquito production on their residential, commercial or industrial properties through good water sanitation practices.

This effort involves regularly draining or changing unneeded sources of standing water that are stagnant for four or more consecutive days – or better yet, preventing water accumulation in the first place by upending, removing or storing indoors any outdoor containers that can hold water. “Mosquito Control & Your Backyard,” a new video on DNREC’s YouTube channel, includes more information on these good water sanitation practices.

Of the 57 mosquito species known to live in Delaware, 19 are problematic for people, either by biting or potentially transmitting mosquito-borne illnesses, or both. From early May through the first hard freeze in the fall, two of these species – the common house mosquito (Culex pipiens), a native species, and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), an invasive species first found here in 1987 – are common where people live, work or recreate in urban and suburban settings. In addition to their annoying bites, these mosquitoes are of particular concern due to their potential to carry and transmit illnesses, with the house mosquito a known carrier of West Nile virus, and the Asian tiger mosquito a possible Delaware vector for West Nile, chikungunya and Zika viruses.

“At this time, we have no evidence in Delaware that local Asian tiger mosquitoes have served as vectors to transmit Zika or chikungunya viruses to people,” said Delaware Mosquito Control Administrator Dr. William Meredith, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife. “However, science suggests that if local Asian tiger mosquitoes bite a returning traveler who has an active case of either of these viruses, those mosquitoes could become carriers and transmit Zika or chikungunya to those they bite next, with the potential to spread the viruses among humans and local mosquitoes.”

“The larvae of both the house mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito can grow in a variety of containers holding water in our backyards, so the best way to control both of these species is by eliminating such standing water,” Dr. Meredith said. “Due to the hard-to-reach and often hidden aquatic habitats where they deposit eggs that hatch into larvae, as well as the behaviors of adult mosquitos, Asian tiger mosquitos pose a particular challenge to control through our chemical insecticides or biological measures alone.”

DNREC YouTube Channel Video: “Mosquito Control & Your Backyard”During mosquito season, property owners are urged to do their part by cleaning debris from clogged rain gutters and emptying water from corrugated downspout extenders; frequently changing water in birdbaths; draining unused swimming pools and kiddie wading pools; and by preventing or draining standing water from outdoor containers such as discarded tires, cans, buckets, flower pot liners, children’s toys, unprotected water cisterns, upright wheelbarrows, uncovered trash cans, upturned trash can lids, open or lidless dumpsters, plugged or undrained boats, sags in tarps covering boats or ATVs, or other water-holding containers.

In comparison to many other mosquito species, common house mosquitoes and Asian tiger mosquitoes have short flight ranges of only a few hundred yards from where they hatch, but even this short distance can be enough to infest a neighborhood. Common house mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, but will also feed throughout the night. Asian tiger mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, but also feed at dusk and dawn.

“By practicing good water sanitation on their properties, residents will be helping themselves and their neighbors too – and the best results come from community-wide participation,” Dr. Meredith said, noting that means involving county or local municipal governments, homeowner or civic associations, property management groups or maintenance corporations as well as individual property owners in this common cause. “In the fight against house mosquitoes and Asian tiger mosquitoes, we’re all in this together – and every little bit helps.”

“Zika transmission continues to spread to new countries and the best way for people to protect themselves from Zika or any mosquito-borne illness is to prevent mosquito bites during travel abroad and during Delaware’s mosquito season. It is possible that local transmission could occur either from mosquito bites once the season starts, from sexual transmission or from mother to baby during pregnancy,” said Division of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh. “Taking precautions to stop mosquitoes from breeding around your home and preventing bites is the best protection.”

To report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes and request local relief, call Mosquito Control’s field offices:

  • Glasgow Office, 302-836-2555, serving New Castle County and the northern half of Kent County, including Dover
  • Milford Office, 302-422-1512, serving the southern half of Kent County south of Dover and all of Sussex County

For more information about Delaware’s Mosquito Control program, including more information about how to prevent or get rid of standing water that produces mosquitoes, call the field offices or the main Dover office at 302-739-9917, or visit de.gov/mosquito.

For more information about Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses in humans, please contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 302-744-1033 or 888-295-5156. Facts and information on Zika and mosquito control also are available at the following links:

DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section provides statewide services to about 945,000 Delaware residents and 7.5 million visitors annually to maintain quality of life and protect public health by reducing the possibility of mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, chikungunya and Zika virus. Throughout the warmer months, Mosquito Control monitors and treats mosquito populations that emerge from wetland areas throughout the state, including ditches, stormwater ponds, wet woodlands and coastal salt marshes, using EPA-registered insecticides. These insecticides have been determined by EPA to pose no unreasonable risk to human health, wildlife or the environment when professionally applied. The Section also works year-round on water and marsh management projects designed to reduce mosquito populations, and provides the public with information on dealing with mosquitoes, from reducing backyard mosquito production to avoiding mosquito bites. For more information, call 302-739-9917 or visit de.gov/mosquito.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 122

DNREC issues $85,000 penalty to Hylton’s Market, Inc. for failure to comply with underground storage tank regulations

DOVER – DNREC Secretary David S. Small has issued a Notice of Administrative Penalty Assessment and Secretary’s Order to Sal Dellomo and Hylton’s Market, Inc., for violations of Delaware’s underground storage tank rules and regulations. The Order includes a cash penalty of $85,000 and an additional $3,489 as cost recovery reimbursement for the Department’s Tank Management Section’s expenses associated with its investigation.

Mr. Dellomo and Hylton’s Market, Inc., are owners of the owners of Hylton’s Market in Camden-Wyoming, Del., where the violations occurred.

DNREC’s Tank Management Section conducted a compliance inspection of the underground storage tank (UST) systems at the facility on June 4, 2014. During the inspection the Tank Management Section recorded 17 violations and noted that Sal Dellomo/Hylton’s Market Inc. was not maintaining the facility’s UST system.

Following inspection, DNREC provided the owners several opportunities to correct the violations and prohibited deliveries of petroleum to the facility. On March 26, 2015, the Department issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) letter to Mr. Dellomo/Hylton’s Market Inc. for the seven violations that remained.

Since that time, three of the seven violations have been corrected. The penalty addresses the remaining four violations including Sal Dellomo and Hylton’s Market, Inc.’s failure to produce tank release detection records; failure to produce monthly reconciled inventory records; failure to provide monthly routine inspection records; and failure to provide daily vapor recovery inspection and maintenance records.

The Secretary’s Order can be found on the DNREC website at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Info/Pages/SecOrders_Enforcement.aspx.

Mr. Dellomo and Hylton’s Market, Inc. have 30 days to request a public hearing regarding these matters.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 107