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Fertilizer spill leads to dead fish in Dubuque

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) — The Iowa DNR conducted a follow-up check on site of a fertilizer spill that happened Monday. The DNR found dead fish and elevated ammonia levels in the southeast corner of Bee Branch Pond.

The spill originally occurred after a pump was left running while transferring fertilizer from a barge on June 18. Based on fertilizer remaining in storage tanks and company records, it is estimated that 432,000 gallons overflowed.

During inspection on June 22, DNR noticed high ammonia levels in rainwater running off the Gavilon Grain parking lot. While the main area of a 32% nitrogen fertilizer spill that happened on June 18 is contained, the DNR believes that recent rains may have washed fertilizer into the pond.

It is reported that Gavilon staff is working with a contractor (environmental) to make sure that storm water is contained and pumped up. Underground piping that may drain to the pond is being looked into.

A fish count is being conducted by DNR fisheries and law enforcement staff. Mostly game fish have been found like dead bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike and channel catfish. Other dead species found were various minnows, several giant floater mussels and common carp.

The DNR will continue to monitor cleanup and consider appropriate enforcement action (including fish restitution).

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