OUR VIEW

Fish kill a serious threat to our area

Posted 6/16/19

A wastewater spill along the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River has killed an estimated 175,000 fish and left an area of the river from Hanceville to Jasper unsafe for human recreation.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

OUR VIEW

Fish kill a serious threat to our area

Posted

A wastewater spill along the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River has killed an estimated 175,000 fish and left an area of the river from Hanceville to Jasper unsafe for human recreation.

According to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), the spill involved the release of partially treated wastewater from a chicken processing plant in Hanceville owned by Tyson Foods. The spill was first reported to ADEM on June 6.

Residents along that section of the river reported thousands of dead fish, including large species such as catfish, gar and bass. The dead fish have made the odor almost unbearable for many. It was reported that officials in hazmat suits were removing the dead fish for several days. ADEM documented low levels of dissolved oxygen up to 22 miles downtown from the plant, and the group added that dead fish were reported as far as 40 miles away. Conservation officials say there is no way to confirm the actual number of dead fish, suggesting it is possible that no fish in that area survived.

As a part of its statement to the public, Tyson Foods said it “deeply regret the incident…” The company also suggested that dissolved oxygen levels had returned to normal, adding the Mulberry and Sipsey Fork “are available for recreation.”

Members of the Sipsey Heritage Commission had the water tested on Thursday. Those tests showed E. Coli, Total Coliform and Fecal Coliform levels were high enough to make the water unsafe for human recreation, causing them to cancel their annual Sipsey Fork River Race that was scheduled for next Saturday.

This is a serious situation, and the company which caused this issue should face serious consequences. The plant was fined in the past, when it was under different ownership. The carelessness associated with this incident has affected the lives of people who live along the river. It was also affected the economic impact the river has on our area on a daily basis, and especially in regards to the annual race, which expected more than 70 racers.

A slap on the wrist is not going to make anyone affected by this situation feel any better. We hope to see significant consequences, and the company should be at the forefront of keeping our waterways safe and clean for years to come.

— Daily Mountain Eagle