Western Washington University professor completes study of mercury contamination in South River
Augusta Free Press
May 26, 2015
The South River flows along the western foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, coiling its way across bucolic rolling farmlands and through small towns, marching north to join first the Shenandoah and then the Potomac before eventually emptying into the Chesapeake Bay.
With its load of fresh water drained from lush mountain valleys with names like Cool Spring Hollow and Gum Springs, the South River carries with it a toxic tide: mercury, dumped into the watershed for more than 20 years from the DuPont Chemical Co.’s Rayon plant in Waynesboro.
For the past five years, Wayne Landis, director of Western Washington University’s Institute of Environmental Toxicology and professor of environmental sciences, has worked to understand how the mercury in the South River affects humans as well as the fish and animals that live in and along it. Assisting him has been a corps of graduate students, each adding their research to the work of a team consisting of state and federal environmental agencies; the Army Corps of Engineers; environmental nonprofits such as Save Our Streams and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; DuPont; and other academic institutions such as Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and the University of Delaware…