Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Isn't That a Fine Pickle!

Alice Volpitta holds up a dead eel
found in the Jones Falls on Sunday. 
 Fish kill, reported in the Jones Falls, linked to vinegar plant

A major pollution event in the Jones Falls, which killed hundreds of fish over the weekend, including the endangered American eel, has been linked to a local vinegar plant.

Blue Water Baltimore alerted state and federal authorities on Sunday after a citizen reported fish floating in the stream near the Light Rail Station at Cold Spring Lane.

After observing many dead fish, Blue Water scientist Barbara Johnson contacted the Maryland Department of the Environment, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who sent inspectors to the site.

Later, Johnson and Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper Alice Volpitta canvassed the stream and found pH readings indicating high acidity.

Wading in the stream amid dead suckers, crawfish and several mature eel “was heartbreaking,” Volpitta said today.

“Whatever the discharge was, it appears to have killed all of the fish it came into contact with before it was diluted further downstream.”

MDE’s preliminary investigation points to the Fleischmann’s Vinegar Co. plant, located at 1916 West Old Cold Spring Lane, as the likely source of the fish kill, according to MDE spokesman Jay Apperson.

“Our initial investigation showed that the facility’s dechlorination process for its wastewater was out of service,” he said.

High acidity would seem to imply that acetic acid rather than chlorine was the problem. If they knew how to measure pH. 

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