TDEC: High levels of mercury found in fish in Middle Tennessee river

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is warning individuals about high levels of mercury found in bass species in a Rutherford County river.

TDEC sent out a precautionary fish consumption advisory for the fish in a portion of the East Fork Stones River.

“Because eating fish with elevated levels of mercury is a risk Tennesseans can avoid, we provide this information so that the fishing community can make informed choices about whether or not to consume the fish they catch,” said Jennifer Dodd, director of the Division of Water Resources for TDEC.

TDEC advises pregnant or nursing mothers and children to avoid eating bass species from the portion of the river included in the advisory.

The advisory extends from the mouth at the confluence with the West Fork Stones River in upper J, Percy Priest Reservoir upstream to Betty Ford Road near Lascassas, Walter Hill Lake and a small impoundment on the East Fork near the community of Walter Hill.

TDEC is not aware of any local sources of mercury to the East Fork Stones River. According to the EPA, atmospheric deposition due to the global burning of coal is the most frequent reason for elevated levels of mercury in fish.