<(PIKEVILLE, KY) A reported fish kill on the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River has Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford concerned about the safety of the waterways in that section of the Big Sandy River.
While on an economic development trip in regard to adventure tourism in Maryland, Rutherford voiced concern about the fish kill and the root of the cause.
"We must find out why these fish died near Millard on the Russell Fork. We must be proof positive as to the cause and that the watershed is safe-both for recreational purposes and for drinking water. Both the Levisa Fork and Russell Fork eco-systems could be on the brink of a major toxic event," Rutherford said.
Rutherford pointed out he has always had concern about the selenium build-up that could affect the reproductive systems of the fish. Selenium toxicity would spiral out of control and our fish population would collapse.
Selenium is a non-metal chemical related to sulfur and can be toxic in large amounts. Water systems and fish may be severely impacted as a result of agricultural runoff courses through normally dry, undeveloped lands. This process leaches natural soluble selenium compounds into the water, which may then be concentrated in the water system. High selenium levels produced in this fashion have been found to have caused certain congenital disorders in animals.
Rutherford is calling for a full investigation into this recent fish kill to see if there is any link between mine discharge, such as is ongoing in Grundy, Virginia, by Consol and the fish kill.
"I want to ensure that this is not a coal industry problem; I want to be sure there is a balance between the economy and the ecology concerns. I support the industry 100% but want to make sure that there is balance," Rutherford continued.
Rutherford will be working with the Fiscal Court that, once the cause of the fish kill is identified, that if any further action is needed they will respond as necessary.
"We are very concerned over this situation. We want to ensure the wildlife and the people in that area and downstream are safe. We are asking to the state to respond immediately. The Fiscal Court will decide what action it can take to protect the watersheds within the County, and to make sure the health of the people are protected," Rutherford concluded.>