State agencies warn people to stay away from Devil’s Swamp and Bayou Baton Rouge

Local News

Three state agencies are warning people to stay away from Devil’s Swamp and Bayou Baton Rouge. Officials say they’re filled with dangerous contaminates stemming back forty years.

Carol lives a mile away from Devil’s Swamp. He remembers going down there every weekend to fish but that was years ago. “It was the best place to fish because you had everything you wanted, everything in Louisiana was right there. Sac-a-lait, bass, catfish, gar fish, shoe pick, goo fish, bream.”

Devil’s Swamp is no longer a safe place to fish…and it hasn’t been for a long time. According to the Department of Environmental Quality, back in 1971, a hazardous waste site opened nearby and some of it’s contaminates seeped into the swamp.

Chance McKneely with the Department of Environmental Quality explains “they sink down, they get into the soil, and as a crawfish eats a worm out of the soil, the worm has some contamination, then a fish eats the crawfish and it’s just a cycle where the aquatic specifies there all gets contaminated.”

Carol says “alligators wouldn’t even get in that water, it was that bad.”

In 1993, state agencies sampled fish tissue and found harmful levels of PCB and mercury in the water. So officials issued an advisory warning residents against eating fish from the area more than twice a month.

“It scares a lot of people, so nobody goes in there and fish no more” says Carol.

This week the Department of Health and Hospitals issued another advisory, this time warning people not to eat any fish or crawfish from Devil’s Swamp or Bayou Baton Rouge.

“We now know that PCB is even more dangerous than we once thought. It’s not that it’s been more contaminated, it’s that the contamination still exists that was there back from the 90’s” explains McKneely.

The waste facility is now owned by Clean Harbors which is working with the EPA to figure out if it’s possible to clean the swamp or bayou.

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