DEP Issues Temporary Warning against Consuming Fish from Segment of the Little River, Oxford and Seymour

Transformer oil with PCBs reached river as result of downed tree
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with the support of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), is advising people not to consume fish taken from a segment of the Little River because of the potential that these fish may carry contamination resulting from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) released by a damaged electrical transformer.

DEP says a downed tree knocked the electrical transformer off a telephone pole on Oxford Rd. (Rt. 67), Oxford, on Wednesday evening. When it hit the ground, the transformer released oil into a nearby catch basin that drains into the Little River. Tests showed that the oil contained significant levels of PCBs.

"As a temporary precaution, we are advising people not to consume fish from this stretch of the Little River until testing confirms that the fish are safe to eat," said Bill Hyatt, Bureau Chief, Natural Resources for the DEP. "There is the potential for the PCBs released to make its way into the tissue of fish over time. This can pose health risks to anyone eating trout or other species."

This temporary DEP advisory for the Little River runs from Seth Den Rd., Oxford, which is upstream from where the transformer hit the ground, downstream to the mouth of the river where it meets the Naugatuck River in Seymour. DEP said tests of fish tissues will be conducted later this summer to determine if the advisory against consumption can be lifted.

A portion of the Little River, including part of the restricted area, is managed by the Inland Fisheries Division as a Wild Trout Management area, supporting wild brook trout and brown trout.

DEP officials said the transformer that came down spilled about 15 gallons of oil, but not all of it ran into the catch basin and reached the river. The transformer is owned by Connecticut Light & Power who has initiated clean-up activities and is evaluating additional response actions that may be necessary

The Oxford Fire Department deployed booms to contain the oil near the catch basin and also to attempt to recapture oil that was in the river. The booms are expected to remain in place over the weekend.