Fish Catch Mistaken For Fish Kill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 29, 2008) – Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet inspectors investigating an April 25 citizen report of a 60-count fish kill on the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River in Pike County found the carcasses of approximately 30 filleted fish on the banks of Russell Fork. The findings, made the same day as the report, were confirmed by a staff member of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, who also visited the site.

The individual who reported the suspected fish kill led the inspectors to the area. It is believed someone fishing in the area filleted the fish on the river bank, said Tom Gabbard, manager of the Division of Water (DOW) Field Operations Branch.

“We’ve had reports of fish kills before that turned out to be the result of sport,” said Gabbard. “The important thing is that local residents are aware of their surroundings and eager to report observations that appear out of the norm. It is also important that our environmental inspectors follow up on all such reports to ensure the safety of our streams, our wildlife and our drinking water sources.”

Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said he was reassured by the findings. When the apparent fish kill was first reported, he expressed concern about a possible link to coal mining activities.

“We’ve got Consol releasing brine into the Levisa Fork and we’ve got to protect the environment,” said Rutherford. “Coal mining is important to us but the economy and the ecology go hand in hand.”

Consolidation Coal Co. (Consol), a coal mining company in Virginia, recently began a permitted discharge of brine water into the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River 12 miles upstream from the Kentucky border.

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