LONG-TERM CHANGES IN MERCURY CONCENTRATIONS IN FISH FROM THE MIDDLE SAVANNAH RIVER Page: 4 of 24
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inorganic mercury into more bioaccumulative methylmercury (Gilmour and Henry, 1991;
Regnell, 1994; Francis et al., 1998). These and other factors have contributed to
relatively high mercury levels in fish from some southeastern environments (EPA, 1999).
The Savannah River is a major river that drains the southeastern United States
Piedmont and coastal plain. Some portions of the Savannah River have fish consumption
advisories as do many other coastal plain rivers in the region because of relatively high
mercury levels in fish. Mercury levels in fish tissue have been measured in the middle
reaches of the Savannah River and several tributaries since 1971 as part of an
environmental monitoring program conducted by the Savannah River Site (SRS), a
Department of Energy facility in South Carolina. These data can be used to assess long-
term changes in mercury contamination in Savannah River fish, identify factors that have
affected contamination levels, and develop a baseline for evaluating the effects of
possible future changes in mercury loading on mercury concentrations in fish. The
objective of this paper is to describe changes in mercury concentrations in fish from the
middle Savannah River between 1971 and 2004 and identify factors that influenced these
Materials and Methods
The Savannah River is formed by the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca
Rivers in northeast Georgia. It flows southeast through the Piedmont and Coastal Plain
to the Atlantic Ocean,creating the border between the states of South Carolina and
Georgia. It also constitutes the southwestern border of the SRS, an 800-km2 nuclear
materials production site established in 1951 near Aiken, South Carolina, USA. The SRS
conducts an extensive environmental monitoring program to assess the possible
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Paller, M & Bill Littrell, B. LONG-TERM CHANGES IN MERCURY CONCENTRATIONS IN FISH FROM THE MIDDLE SAVANNAH RIVER, article, January 2, 2007; [Aiken, South Carolina]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc881835/m1/4/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.