I am not sure what edition
of the Berwickshire is now on its website. After two weeks a new edition has appeared. It may be last Thursdays (12th October) as the week before would surely have been dominated by the opening of the Hutton Village Hall.
Anyhow for someone who lives half a mile as the cow waddles from the Whiteadder one of the featured stories makes grim reading. Not that I am in the habit of either eating eels or swimming in the balmy waters of this river. I hope the young pheasants swarming all over the Hutton Mill industrial site have been advised to stay clear of the river and it is hardly good news for the fishermen who pay quite a hefty fee for fishing down stream from the mill.There is no mention as to how far down the river the contamination is to be foundBANNED chemical DDT has been found in eel tissue in a Berwickshire river.
Water watchdog SEPA found the chemical in the Whiteadder during routine monitoring even though DDT has been banned from use in the UK for 30 years.
A shocked environment expert this week warned that young children and pregnant women should not eat the eels - and said the chemical could also be present in salmon and trout.
"I would be cautious about eating those eels and although the DDT appears to be at a low level I would still say that pregnant women or young children should not be eating them," said Dr Richard Dixon, director of World Wildlife Fund Scotland.
"It is possible that it is in salmon and trout as well."
Children swim in parts of the river during the summer but a SEPA spokeswoman said this week that the concentrates in the water were so low that it was not possible to measure them.
"It was found in the eels because they stay in one place for a long time and it accumulates in their fat," she said.
The average total DDT concentration found in eel tissue from the Whiteadder Water was 0.491 mg/kg dry weight.
"These levels of DDT are not anticipated to pose any risk to wildlife eating eels from this area," said the SEPA spokeswoman.
However Dr Dixon said: "They will not kill you if you eat them but it is still potentially a problem as DDT interferes with the reproductive system.
"The body mistakes it for one of its own hormones so for a developing foetus and young children it can be a concern."
So called gender bending chemicals like DDT sends the wrong signals to the body.
Dr Dixon explained that the chemicals have been found to feminise fish. "Two well known examples of the gender bending effect are male fish which have become feminised and start to produce egg protein and dog whelks which have started to produce penises. There is obviously something pretty fundamental going wrong so we want to avoid eating it ourselves."
He added: "One of the things about DDT is that it not only persists for a long time but it also builds up in the food chain.
"It would be interesting to see if there were similar readings for salmon and trout although I would think they have chosen the eel because they stay in the same place in the river for long periods of time."
Dr Dixon said he was concerned that the DDT was there at all.
"It was banned in the 1970s and the fact that it is still turning up is pretty worrying and gives a lesson to us about the future," he said.
A spokesman for the Scottish Greens agreed.
"What is it doing turning up so long after it has been banned?" the spokesman asked. "It is incredible. It has been banned for donkey's years and why was it being used in the Borders in any case? The Borders is not known for having a big problem with malaria which is one of its principle uses."
A Scottish Borders Council spokesman also expressed surprise at the findings but said that as far as the council was aware there was no health risk.
"As far as we are aware there is no abstraction from the Whiteadder for drinking water and it has not been flagged up to us by SEPA as a problem," the spokesman said.
SEPA believes that the DDT found in the eels is a contamination legacy from historic use of the substance
The reference to Malaria is intriguing. One hopes that this is nothing to do with the Hutton Think Tank's experiments on midge control.