through Saturday Evening for Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Madison & Swain Counties in WNC, Rabun County in NE GA
MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. --Emergency crews have identified a potential source of the substance that killed hundreds of fish and other aquatic animals in the North Fork River earlier this week. After extensive examination and testing, it appears that the substance, which has not yet been identified, was coming from the vicinity of the waste water treatment lagoon ponds at Coats North American. “Since first alerted, we have worked hard to ensure the incident was contained as quickly as possible,” said Steve Kinsey, regional finance director for Coats North American. “We have contracted two environmental consultant firms to bring in additional specialist experience with this type of incident. They worked continuously together, including through Thursday night, until the incident was contained.” A breached beaver dam located near one of the lagoons caused a back-up of the substance, which ultimately resulted in low dissolved oxygen and high pH levels in Limekiln Tributary and North Fork River. Agents with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) continue to test the waterways. Coats North American officials have been working closely with the relevant agencies to investigate and respond to the incident in the North Fork River and are continuing to do so. This work included taking samples to evaluate contamination levels, creating a sump for water collection and vacuuming fluids from a swampy area adjacent to the lagoons that contained suspect material. “This has been contained, and we have set up measures to assure reoccurrence does not happen,” said Kinsey. “Following the containment of the incident, we have now moved our focus to identify the precise source and how to take further steps to prevent a repetition. This will take some further time.” The specific number of aquatic animals killed is unknown, but N.C. Wildlife Resources crews found 400 dead fish in a 120-yard section. The affected area of the entire kill was approximately 2 miles. There were no effects on aquatic life from Cannon Road to Lake James. As of Saturday morning, 6,000 gallons of liquid had been collected and disposed of. Approximately 25 local, state and federal agencies have continued to work around the clock for days, conducting tests, managing the situation and monitoring the waterways. Anyone with concerns about the fish kill or lake safety is asked to call 652-3982.
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