Fish-consumption advisories posted since the 1970s for the James River around Richmond and downstream reflect the continuing contamination of the river from historical pollution by several chemicals, particularly PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxin, kepone, and mercury. For example, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) samples in 2009 from some James tributaries near Richmond indicated PCB levels as high as 18,000 parts per quadrillion, compared to Virginia’s water-quality criterion for PCBs of 640 parts per quadrillion (0.00064 micrograms/liter). (For water-quality criteria in the Virginia Administrative Code, see http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+reg+9VAC25-260-140.) In James tributary streams near Hopewell, the 2009 DEQ sample found PCB levels as high at 230,000 parts per quadrillion. Samples in 2009 from the mainstem James, however, were more nearly normal. DEQ spokesperson Bill Hayden said that a new survey is “likely,” according to Richmond Style Weekly.
The river spoils – Richmond Style Weekly, 6/3/11