Guam EPA: 2 beaches polluted beyond acceptable standards

POLLUTION ADVISORY: Talofofo Bay is among the beaches listed as polluted by the Guam Environmental Protection Agency. Post file photo

Eight local beaches are polluted above the accepted bacteriological standards, according to the Guam Environmental Protection Agency.

GEPA tested 42 samples on Dec. 5. They identified the following beaches:

  • Agat Togcha Beach - Cemetery
  • Asan - Adelup Beach Park
  • Hagatna - Hagatna Bayside Park
  • Hagatna - Padre Palomo Park Beach
  • Piti - Santos Memorial
  • Talofofo - Talofofo Bay
  • Tamuning - East Hagåtña Bay - Trinchera Beach
  • Umatac - Toguan Bay

GEPA officials warned that swimming, fishing or playing in unsafe waters may result in minor illnesses such as sore throats or diarrhea. It may also result in more serious illnesses such as meningitis, encephalitis, or severe gastroenteritis.

Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems have a greater chance of getting sick when they come in contact with contaminated water, the press release stated. 

Fish/Shellfish advisories

The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services issued an advisory for fish and shellfish harvested at three local beaches, the release stated. 

Orote Point: A seafood advisory was issued in 2001 for the west side of Orote Peninsula (Rizal Beach to Spanish Steps) and Gabgab beach in Apra Harbor. The advisory extends 600 feet from shore. Seafood caught in these areas may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated pesticides or dioxins at levels that are not safe to eat. This includes fish, shellfish and algae or sea grapes. Fish samples were taken in 2001. The landfill has been cleaned and capped with a low permeability cover. The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) advises choosing younger, smaller fish and other seafood to reduce exposure to contaminates whenever possible.

Residents are also encouraged to remove skin, fatty tissue in the belly and along the side and internal organs of seafood to reduce potential exposure to chemicals, the release stated. 

Agana Swamp: An advisory was issued regarding fish and shellfish in the Agana swamp and river in 2000. The advisory was issued after test results showed fish and eels in the river and swamp area had higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs were used at the Agana Power Plant and were found in the soil near the electric transformers at the plant and in the Agana Swamp.

Cocos Lagoon: A fish consumption advisory for Cocos Lagoon has been in effect since 2006. The advisory stems from fish tissue sampling conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard that indicated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) above U.S. EPA recommended screening value for those fishing in recreational waters. The advisory only applies to consuming fish and does not cover swimming, wading or other recreational activities in the lagoon. PCB contamination in the Lagoon along the Cocos Island shoreline is suspected to have come from the former U.S. Coast Guard Long Range Navigation (LORAN) station on Cocos Island.

Officials also reminded the community that "no harvesting or consumption of seaweed, fish or marine organisms is allowed at Tanguisson Beach."

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