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NFC: report on public meeting: Indiana big fish kill

 <A HREF="http://www.starnews.com/news/citystate/2000/jan/0111st_fish.html">St
arNews.com : CEO deflects blame for fish kill</A> 

Above is link to today's The Indianapolis Star newspaper article on the big 
fish kill.  Last night I attended the first of four public meetings on the 
subject.  There were several hundred people and standing room only.  The 
facility was not big enough for the crowd that attended.  Frankly, much of 
the crowd was very hostile and unbelieving of many of the responses.  The 
media was well represented.  (According to two women in my office, they saw 
me asking my main question on Channel 59 late news.)

Present were representatives of Indiana Department of Enviornmental 
Management, Anderson Water Treatment Plant, Health Department, and the 
Indianapolis Water Co.   If anyone from Guide Corp. was there, they (and 
their bodyguards :> ) did not identify themselves.

There were some hand outs (I have no way posting them; I can have a neighbor 
scan them and have them posted by the webmaster if there is interest.)  
Questions were submitted in written form and the individuals had the option 
of going to the podium and asking the question in front of the audience or 
have the monitor ask the question for them.  IDEM personnel tried to sort the 
questions to eliminate duplicates as there were several large stacks.  The 
meeting started at 7:00 PM and did not break up until almost 11:00 PM.  


You may want to click on above for a map of Indiana.  They area of concern is 
Anderson (above and to the right of Indianapolis) through Fishers and 
downstream to Martinsville (below and to the left of Indianapolis).

Information obtained at the meeting:

- ALL fish in the White River from below the Anderson treatment facility to 
Fishers are dead.  

- from Fishers to downtown Indianapolis, collected live fish are unhealthy 
and probably will not survive the winter.  So far the winter has been 
unusally mild.

- DNR continues to monitor many points.  Below Indianapolis to Martinsville 
has yet to show any unusual fish kills.  

- there were early reports of dead raccoons and it was suggested that it came 
from eating dead fish.  DNR reported finding 10 dead raccoons just below the 
Anderson water treatment facility; necropsies showed all 10 afflicted with 
distemper.   No other reported findings.

- over 60 tons of dead fish have been removed and there is still lots out 

- Guide Corporation continues to deny they are the source of the contaminant. 
 They are now being monitored daily.

- Anderson Waste Water reported that the only user known to use the suspected 
chemical cause of the kill is Guide Corp.  Other industrial users of Anderson 
Waste Water facility are cooperating in not using the facility until things 
get sorted out.  Apparently several are suffering because of their 
cooperation in not bringing more pressure to bear on the compromised 
facility's ability to process waste water.

-  DNR did several spot checks of the river below Anderson for signs of 
aquatic insect life and had nothing but good news to report.  The viable 
insect base is critical when restocking is appropriate.  They focused on 
riffle areas and suggested that some larvae burrowed deeper in to the 
substrate if they were disturbed by the chemical.

-  My question was "are any forms of aquatic life listed as threatened, 
endangered or of special concern effected by the fish kill?"  DNR responded 
that the answer was no for both State and Federal listed species.  HELP 
NEEDED:  can any experts help me confirm or question that?  
Here is a site that may help: <A 
HREF="http://www.state.in.us/dnr/naturepr/species/hamilton.pdf">List of 
ENDANGERED, THREATENED AND RARE SPECIES by county</A>   The counties affected 
so far are Madison, Hamilton and Marion.  Morgan and Owen will be next if the 
kill continues.  

My follow up question was does that include paddlefish and the response was 
no.  I'm pretty sure there are paddlefish in the White River below 
Indianapolis but not sure if they are present above.  The last I heard, 
paddle fish cannot be taken in any Indiana waters except the Ohio River and 
there is a limit there.  

- Indianapolis takes a large percentage of their water from the White River.  
There has been serious concern if the water is safe to drink.  
Representatives from the Water Co. assured everyone that after their 
treatment, the water was safe to drink.  The claim their tests detect 
anything harmful to humans even if they are not sure what the substance is.   

- Someone moved up next to me in the front row.  When I quietly introduced 
myself, I discovered he is President of the Indianapolis Water Co.  He stated 
he lives nearby and he and his family drink city water.

- someone asked what the penalties to the offender might be.  IDEM stated 
that the law said maximum fines are $25,000 per day, per incident.  The 
audience got pretty hostile at this point.  

- a Boy Scout leader asked if it would be safe to canoe the river next 
summer.  The best answer DNR could come up with was that there is _always_ 
risk in coming in contact with the water from the White River.

- I imagine the officials will be better organized and prepared for the rest 
of the meetings after going through last night's learning curve.  

FLASH:  This just in.  I just turned on the evening news and tonight's public 
meeting in Anderson has been canceled.  Maybe I will go to another one and 
see what they have to say after more preparation.

Chuck Church
Indianapolis, Indiana USA