Elizabethton, TN: River Recovery May Take Ten Years Following Chemical Spill

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

River Recovery May Take Ten Years Following Chemical Spill Elizabethton, TN, United States


It may be at least a decade before a stretch of the Watauga River in East Tennessee is back to normal following a chemical spill that killed hundreds of fish, state wildlife officials say.

A Feb. 25 fire at the North American Corp. plant caused the release of the chemicals, which included chlorine and ammonia.

Tennessee Tech University fisheries research shows that the river had about 3,400 trout per mile before the fire.

Afterwards, a survey below the plant came up with different results, according to Mark Fagg, an Aquatic Habitat Protection Biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

``Basically, we found nothing in 10 miles,'' Fagg said. ``This is probably the worst we have ever had.''

What Fagg discovered was dead fish floating on the surface or lying on the bottom of the river.

The state Department of Environment and Conservation took water samples, and the results should be available in a few days, state Environment and Conservation Department spokeswoman Kim Olsen said.

Fagg estimates that it will take about 10 years to bring the river back to where it was before the fire.

Bob Eadie, president of the Cumberland Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Nashville, said he is worried about what may have been left behind in the ashes.

``Does this mean that every time it rains that the river is polluted again?'' Eadie asked.

The 1.3 million-square-foot North American plant makes fibers for car hoses. The fire burned for more than three days, and more than half of the building was destroyed.


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), March 22, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ