PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ten Mile Creek holds a special place in the hearts of folks like George Smoggie who’s landed trout, chubs and catfish in it all of his life.
Smoggie: “Well, I’m 80, so you figure how long I’ve fished this creek.”
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “Long time.”
Smoggie: “Ever since I was a kid.”
But last year water samples taken by the state Department of Environmental Protection showed levels of radioactivity 60 times the maximum allowed in drinking water.
It caused Smoggie and just about everyone else major concern.
“That’s terrible. That means you can’t eat the fish,” says Smoggie.
On top of that, Ten Mile Creek flows into Monongahela River, the source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people.
“Now you have a concern whether or not this is going to get into somebody’s drinking water, so we should be concerned for a multitude of reason,” said Steve Hvozdovich, of Clean Water Action.
Those concerns drew the interest of a West Virginia University research group, which conducted its own sampling, and their results are much more reassuring.
The West Virginia Water Research Institute says it used extensive and state-of-the-art testing methods and found levels of radiation that were barely detectable and well below safe water standards.
When KDKA’s Andy Sheehan asked Dr. Paul Ziemkeiwicz, the institute’s director, to explain the discrepancy, he said: “I think we’re right. If I were on Ten Mile Creek, I’d certainly take comfort in those findings.”
Meanwhile, the DEP is already in the process of retesting the Ten Mile Creek.
“We’re going to look at their results and we’re going to look at our results and see what we find out,” said John Poister, of the DEP. “Right now, we’re not going to say much of anything until we some concrete results of our own.”