WILSONVILLE - A public forum will be held in Wilsonville on Wednesday, June 30, to discuss the findings of a multi-year, $500,000 study on fish deformities in the Newberg Pool, a stretch of the Willamette River south of Portland that has been the source of significant public concern since 1992.

Scientists from Oregon State University will present the most updated information on fish health, water pollutants and directions for future research at this forum, and also answer questions and listen to suggestions. The event will be at the Wilsonville Public Library, 8200 S.W. Wilsonville Road, from 6-8 p.m.

The forum is free, but advance online registration is requested by telephone at 541-737-8105 or at this website: http://www.science.oregonstate.edu/mfbsc. The website will also provide a wide range of other information and resources about this issue.

In the 1990s, researchers observed that fish deformities in this section of the Willamette River were far higher than in some other areas, with more than 50 percent of some species showing lesions and other deformities.

An interim report submitted earlier this year indicated that parasites are the primary cause of the problem, rather than toxic pesticides, heavy metals, other chemicals or organic pollutants.

In an analysis of more than 15,000 fish, researchers have examined a wide range of possible causes, but ultimately it became clear that virtually all of the deformities were being caused by two parasites, which pose little threat to human health but for some reason are more prevalent in this part of the river. The parasites can be destroyed either by freezing or cooking of infected fish.

One area for continued research will be to determine why the Newberg Pool has higher levels of these parasites and the deformities they cause, the scientists said. In comparing water from the Newberg Pool to other sites, the study found no significant difference in levels of heavy metals, dioxins, or other "legacy" pollutants from the past such as DDT or PCBs, he said, all of which were present but at extremely low levels.

The Wilsonville forum is being sponsored by the OSU Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, with support from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.


Larry Curtis, 541-737-1764

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