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Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Transpoman
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Transpoman

An ongoing dispute between the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Guardians of Flushing Bay over the waterway’s safety has taken another twist.

Videos from Captain John Lipscomb, part of a blog post by RiverKeeper, show highly polluted waters with thousands of dead menhaden, a type of saltwater herring, in Flushing Creek.

The local Queens nonprofit organization, whose goal is to advocate for and promote a clean and healthy Flushing Bay, has taken issue with comments made by the DEP in a story on NY1 where the government agency said it was too soon to say what killed the fish, as there could be natural explanations for the fish kill.

As far as the Guardians are concerned, there is a very simple explanation: the water is becoming too polluted.

Water quality testing done by the group showed dissolved oxygen readings were near zero mg/L. While more sensitive freshwater fish do not reproduce when the water falls below 6 mg/L, anything under 2 mg/L leads to rising fish mortality rates.

Guardians of Flushing Bay have also demanded evidence from the DEP that a large amount of dead fish are such as this are common, or that “predator fish” are to blame for the low dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

Both of which have been claimed by the DEP and been heavily disputed by Guardians.

“We are disheartened that DEP will not acknowledge the poor conditions of Flushing Bay and Creek that hundreds of boaters still experience every week,” said Guardians of Flushing Bay Spokesperson Korin Tangtrakul in a letter to the DEP. “It is 2017, and we are still seeing consistent failure to meet water quality standards for recreational waterbodies.”

QNS reached out to the DEP for comment on the Guardians’ letter earlier this week, but as of the publication of this article, no formal response from the agency was received.

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