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Fish Kill Likely Caused By Mill Fire

Angela Kellner

The fire that destroyed a Springfield mill a week ago likely also caused a fish die-off in the nearby millrace.

Last Thursday's fire destroyed the Springfield Plywood and Veneer Mill and put 250 people out of work. The next day, the Lane County Sheriff advised people to stay out of the Springfield mill race and its confluence with the Willamette River because of large number of dead fish found in the water. The advisory was lifted over the weekend.
Geoff Brown is on-scene coordinator for Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. He says test of the water after the fish kill found alkaline and low traces of chemicals used in plywood manufacture-- the fire also warmed the water.

Brown: "We had transitory conditions that were stressful enough for those fish that it killed a lot of 'em. And it was probably some combination of temperature, pH and, you know, there may have been some oxygen issues there too when the fire was going."

Brown says runoff from the water used to fight the fire ended up in the millrace. DEQ is still monitoring the area. The Springfield millrace was recently restored to improve fish and wildlife habitat.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.
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