Officials Worried About Fish Reproduction In Libby - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Officials Worried About Fish Reproduction In Libby

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LIBBY -

Selenium is stirring up some strain on Lake Koocanusa, so officials gathered in Libby to share their concerns about the impact of coal mining on the lake's water quality.

Last night's meeting in Eureka brought together panelists from FWP, Montana's Department of Environmental Quality, the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, and a representative for Teck Coal.

Teck Coal already operates five mines in the Elk Valley and plans to increase its output.

This activity has caused increased levels of trace metal Selenium in Lake Koocanusa, impeding the reproduction of the local fish.

Fish, and humans, require low levels of Selenium, but the element is toxic in high concentrations.

"We haven't seen a level that high in Lake Koocanusa, but again it was that increasing trend that we were projecting we would exceed that in the future if something wasn't done. So the state decided to be proactive," said Jim Dunnigan, the president of the Kootenai River Network and a fisheries biologist for FWP.

To be considered impaired in the state of Montana, water must have a concentration of five parts per million or more of Selenium.

Lake Koocanusa has not yet reached that limit.

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