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Dow Chemical-Sponsored Walleye Festival to Donate Toxic Fish to Food Banks

It’s Earth Day, and over at TWI’s sister site, The Michigan Messenger, Eartha Jane Melzer reports that dioxin-contaminated fish caught from the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers during an annual Walleye Festival sponsored by Dow Chemical could find its way to the dinner tables of poor people.

This year’s event features a Special Olympics hot dog cook-out, a teen dance and battle of the bands, a rummage sale and beer tent. But the centerpiece of the festival is the walleye tournament — a competition to see who can catch the largest fish from the river.

Doyle said that the people fishing for walleye are aware of the state fish advisories. “The fishermen all know about the advisories ’cause they are posted when you buy a permit,” he said.

“We don’t serve any walleye caught in river,” he said, adding that the fish served during the Friday evening fish fry is “probably pollock.” Doyle estimates that 80 percent of the Walleye Fest competitors will keep and use the fish they catch.

“Other people donate them to food banks,” he said. “If people don’t want the fish we will filet the fish and donate them to different food organizations that want them.”

Dioxin remediation work three miles downstream from Freeland in Saginaw Township’s West Michigan Park will not impact the river-wide festival, Doyle said.

In 2001, the National Institute of Health listed the family of chemicals known as dioxins as “known human carcinogens” — and while the jury is still out on the chemicals’ level of toxicity, a 2003 Environmental Protection Agency report said dioxin is a “dangerous carcinogen.”

You can read Eartha Jane’s full story here.

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