Dead fish blamed on low water

Published 4:41 pm Saturday, October 10, 2009

SEVERN — The fire at Severn Peanut Company has been ruled out as a cause in the fish kill found in a small canal here last month.

According to Northampton County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Byers, results from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pointing to a natural cause and ruled out the blaze at the peanut company that smoldered for weeks.

Meanwhile, an investigation into a fish kill on the Meherrin River near the site where water was being pumped to contain the fire is still pending.

“I spoke with DENR the first of the week and the canal issue appears to be from low water and the lack of oxygen,” said Byers in regards to the canal fish kill.

The phenomenon is referred to as ecological hypoxia and occurs in aquatic environments as dissolved oxygen becomes reduced to a point where it is harmful to aquatic organisms living in the water system.

In the canal’s case, the lower water level caused oxygen depletion which led to a fish kill event.

Byers said a representative from DENR noted there was a low water level in the canal while he was investigating the Meherrin River fish kill.

While the cause for fish dying in the canal has been found, Byers said the reason for the fish kill on the Meherrin River is still being investigated by DENR.

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald first reported the fish kill in the canal on September 26.

A resident of South Street told the News-Herald the town had removed several dead fish from the canal. That was confirmed by an employee at the Town Hall who said a 30-gallon trash bin had been used to collect the carcasses, though the employee did not know how many fish had been removed.

Four or five dead fish were discovered on September 11 in the Meherrin River (in which the canal empties into) by a representative with Support Crane, a company that was in charge of the containment of the recent warehouse fire at Severn Peanut Company.