Massive fish kill in Cullman County due to wastewater spill

Local News

UPDATE (6/10): The Alabama Department of Environmental Management released a statement Monday saying recent water quality data indicate that the dissolved oxygen has improved in the Mulberry Fork since the release last Thursday. 

This is a video of more dead fish where the Mulberry and Sipsey River connects with the Black Warrior River in Empire on Monday. 

A spokesperson with Tyson Foods, Inc. released the following statement in response:

We deeply regret the incident on the Mulberry Fork, near Hanceville, Alabama. We’ve been working diligently and cooperatively with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. We are working to make things right, and have an environmental contractor onsite and in the waterways, actively working on clean-up and the collection of fish impacted by this incident.

Monitoring today show that the dissolved oxygen levels are back to normal in the waterways, which is better for all wildlife connected to the creeks and rivers.

Our core values include serving as stewards of the environment — in Alabama and every community where we operate — and we take that obligation seriously. Our focus is to deal with the issue at hand, so it’s too early to speculate on our longer-term remediation efforts, but we want the community to know we will be considering several opportunities. 

ORIGINAL: 

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Mulberry Fork has experienced a massive fish kill over the past few days. Tyson Foods’ River Valley ingredients plant had a large wastewater spill on Thursday, leaving residents to find hundreds of dead fish floating downstream.

CBS 42’s Malique Rankin went to Cullman and Blount County to learn how this spill was affecting residents. Video of the damage causes is pretty shocking. The Riverkeeper tells CBS 42 this is more than just a massive fish kill; the water in Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River enters into the Birmingham Treatment Plant.

“See a lot of people downstream are really worried about exactly what happened, what the extent of it is, what threats to health and safety on the river are, and what the next steps will be,” says Nelson Brooke, the Black Warrior River Keeper.

Cullman and Blount County residents are angry that this not only happened again but say this happened with little transparency from the plant.

“It’s devastating for me to know that this is happening in my hometown. I grew up fishing this river, I want my kids to fish this river. And if stuff keeps happening like this, that ain’t going to happen. It’s just going to be a wasteland, that river,” says Keith Fink, a Hayden Resident.

“Just the impact on our environment makes me feel outraged that more precautions weren’t taken,” says Nick Lewis, a Hanceville resident.

River Valley ingredients say the company is actively working on clean-up and is dedicated to swift remediation of the issue.

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