Tests Show Shasta Lake to Be Free of Spill’s Toxicity


State authorities gave Shasta Lake a clean bill of health Tuesday and announced that the northernmost arm of the reservoir--contaminated and closed to the public when pesticide spilled into it from a derailed train car--will be reopened to recreation on Thursday.

A ban on fishing in an area stretching from a small island in the lake up to the site of the July 14 chemical spill will remain in effect, however, until an assessment is completed of the ecological damage caused by the disaster.

In a prepared statement, California Fish and Game Director Peter Bontadelli said 77 of 78 water quality samples taken from the lake Monday morning contained toxic levels that were nondetectable. The 78th sample showed a chemical reading of 2 parts per billion and was considered “an anomaly that is not significant,” said Bill Gengler, a Fish and Game spokesman.

Given the latest results, Bontadelli said “our goals have been met for elimination of toxic materials in the lake.”


Bontadelli added, however, that the reopening of the reservoir “does not signal an end to the need to continue to monitor the river and lake for continuing environmental impact” from the spill.

As much as 19,000 gallons of metam-sodium, a soil fumigant, poured into the upper Sacramento River after a Southern Pacific train derailed above Dunsmuir 18 days ago. The spill wiped out all aquatic life along a 45-mile stretch of the river from the accident site down to Shasta Lake.

Concerned about the threat to public health, officials closed the northernmost arm of the lake to boating and other uses immediately after the spill.