Industrial Incident Causes Massive Fish Kill in Louisiana

Another industrial incident takes a toll on the environment in Louisiana. The Temple-Inland paper mill in Bogalusa has taken responsibility for a fish kill in Pearl River and its tributaries stemming from an incident that began over a week ago. Attached are images I shot on Aug. 18 and 19th of the fish kill and the cleanup.

The paper mill knew they had a problem when they exceeded their limit of allowable discharge into the Pearl River. They didn’t report the incident to DEQ ( Department of Environmental Quality) immediately, nor did they stop production. When they did cease operation, enough black liquor, a byproduct of the paper-making process, was released into the river to cause a major kill of fish including carp, drum catfish, eels , sardines and the endangered sturgeon, shellfish and turtles along 40 miles of river. By the end of this weekend, most of the dead fish have been picked up. Water fouled by chemicals that caused oxygen depletion have been flushing out into bigger bodies of water–first into the Rigolets and from there into Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne, which both connect to the Gulf of Mexico. Damage to the Rigolets and the lakes is being monitored by the DEQ and other concerned parties. On the August 20, crabbers reported pulling up hundreds of traps full of dead crabs ( see local news report here  ) .
To see more images this link is to a set on Flickr  .
To see a video clip click here.
Nature’s resiliency is remarkable. Though the tributary I documented was full of death, the maggots were very much alive, feasting on the fish carcasses. The Pearl River and other bayous I explored had signs of life returning, despite the black film still present in the water.

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