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Monday, June 13, 2011

Cause of mass fish kill in Pennsylvania lake is undetermined...

Cause still undetermined as fish turn up dead in Ridley Park Lake (With Video)
Published: Monday, June 13, 2011
By Alex Rose

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection said initial testing at Ridley Park Lake has so far produced no clues to the cause of a mass fish kill discovered there late Saturday.

“The field tests that (DEP agent Michael McAdams) did showed nothing abnormal,” said DEP spokesperson Deborah Fries. “The Ph, the acid level, the dissolved oxygen – all were normal (and) tests for chlorine and solvents were negative.”

Ridley Park Borough President Bob Berger said he and state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, of Ridley Park, were notified by a resident of dead fish floating in the lake at about 8 p.m. Saturday.

They contacted the DEP and other state agencies, and McAdams arrived on the scene about 9:45 p.m. Saturday to take some initial samples.

Fries said more thorough lab testing in Harrisburg would likely be completed by next week, but she is not confident the cause will ever be identified.

“It’s possible that whatever contaminant killed the fish moved on through and went downstream and was diluted by the time people got out there and began sampling,” she said.

There is an unconfirmed report that a local resident saw a sheen on the water Saturday morning that might have been the cause, said Fries, but with the passage of time and additional dilution from rain Saturday night, the likelihood of discovering what that sheen might have been and its relationship to the dead fish is looking slim.

“We may never know what caused this, but the investigation is still ongoing,” said Fries.

The DEP is working with public works department officials to map the sewers in the area to see if that was the origin for the contaminant, said Fries, adding that fish kills or sheens can be reported 24 hours a day on the DEP hotline at 484-250-5900.

The earlier such incidents are reported, she said, the better likelihood there is of obtaining fresh samples.

Meanwhile, borough residents, local officials and other volunteers were working to clear the lake of the nearly 1,000 dead fish Sunday.

Miccarelli said many of those are small, presenting a problem for nets in the cleanup, which could take more than a day.

He said numerous varieties of fish live in the lake, including palominos, carp and catfish, and the fish kill seems to have affected all of the species equally.

“Pretty much in one section of the lake, all the fish are dead,” said Miccarelli. “It lends some credence to the theory that wherever the pollutant, or whatever it was, it came from one location in the lake, because a little further upstream there are fish swimming and downstream further all the fish are dead.”

Berger said the borough would be posting signs advising the public about the fish kill.

He said he had never seen such an event in his 30 years as a borough resident.

Staff writer Patti Mengers contributed to this article.
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