William Yingling has been fishing the same spot on the Susquehanna River for 35 years. But over the last 2 to 3 years, he says he’s caught small mouth bass with black spots. Yingling is also a retired family practitioner, and worries the black spots are melanomas caused by endocrine disrupters in the water. Yingling’s fishing hole is not far downstream from the Sunbury Generation plant, one of 15 plants that had been taking frack water, and dumping it into the state’s rivers and streams. In one year, between 2009 and 2010, Sunbury treated 357,000 barrels of fracking waste water, and discharged it into the Susquehanna River. A year ago, the state asked plants like Sunbury to stop taking the waste water because the facilities did not have the capacity to properly treat the water.
Yingling doesn’t know if the frack water caused the black spots. He says there could be other sources, like pharmaceutical waste. He does think endocrine disrupters are the cause. Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that can send the wrong signals to the body’s cells, and interfere with a cell’s healthy development. But Yingling says no one seems to be doing the research to find out what exactly those black spots are.
“No one wants to do the science,” says Yingling. “It’s frustrating.”
So Yingling has written to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission asking them to do biopsies on those black spots.
Here’s an excerpt of his letter to Commissioner Robert Bachman.
These black lesions look very much like melanomas found in human disease. They also appear very much like fish melanomas seen in exotic species of fish that are being used in the medical research of human malignant melanomas. (see attached pictures)
In both fish and humans these skin cancers can be caused by exposure to both UVB light and chemicals.
In my opinion as a physician, the evidence points strongly to the fact that both the problems that Susquehanna River smallmouth have shown pertaining to intersexing and opportunistic infections because of immune incompetence are being caused by chemical endocrine disruptor pollution in the watershed.
Yingling’s biggest fear is that humans eating the fish, or drinking from the Susquehanna could also be at risk for cancer. The Fish and Boat Commission, however, says the fish are safe to eat. So far, Yingling hasn’t gotten any response from the Boat Commission regarding his request for biopsies. But he says his next step would be to send some of those afflicted fish to a private pathologist.