Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: January 9, 2007

  Contact: Debbie Crane

State Removes Last Fish Consumption Advisory Below Canton Paper Mill

RALEIGH – State Health Director Leah Devlin today announced the removal of the last remaining fish consumption advisory below the Blue Ridge paper mill in Haywood County. Today’s announcement is the final chapter in a situation that first came to light in the late 1980s, when byproducts of the paper production process led to fish consumption advisories in the Pigeon River and the Walters Lake Reservoir.

“This is both a public health and an environmental success story,” said Devlin. “It is a good example of an industry addressing a potential public health problem by changing its processes. I’m pleased we can close the book on this one.”

The original advisory was issued by the State Health director in 1988. It warned against consumption of any fish from below the then Champion International paper mill. In 1994, that advisory was reduced to cover only carp and catfish. In 2001, it was reduced still further to just a limited advisory on carp in Walters Lake, which is also known as the Waterville reservoir.

The advisory was originally issued because of high levels of dioxin found in fish taken below the paper mill. Dioxin is a byproduct of chlorine bleaching. Studies have shown that exposure to dioxin increases the risk of several types of cancer in animals and humans. The most common health effect in people exposed to large amounts of dioxins is chloracne, which is a severe skin disease, characterized by large, deep acne-like lesions. Some other effects include liver damage and changes in hormonal levels.

Improved pollution controls at the Canton paper mill were enacted during the late 1980s. The Canton mill, formerly owned by Champion International, was purchased by mill employees and renamed Blue Ridge Paper Products Inc. in 1999.

More information on fish consumption advisories in North Carolina can be found at http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/fish/.



Public Affairs Office
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Debbie Crane