Fish Kill Caused By Ammonia Leak In Iowa

The DNR is investigating a fish kill that occurred following a leak from an anhydrous ammonia storage tank at the South Central Coop in Lacona.

The leak occurred about 10 a.m. Thursday causing the a HazMat team and local fire departments to evacuate portions of the town north of the coop.

"With ammonia, the initial big concern is getting people away from the area so they don't breathe the vapors," said Ted Petersen of the DNR's Des Moines field office.

"The fire departments sprayed down the vapors to prevent them from becoming air borne," he said. "We thought the runoff was contained. However, it ran into an underground tile line which empties into Mill Branch creek."

High ammonia levels and dead or dying fish have been found in Mill Branch. Petersen has found a mix of both large and small dead fish, including game fish and other species.

The spill and fish kill progressed downstream about two miles into Cotton Creek and then White Breast Creek about two miles east of Lacona.

Petersen is checking ammonia levels, taking water samples and looking for additional dead fish. The DNR's fisheries staff was en route Thursday afternoon to conduct a fish kill count.

The coop is constructing a temporary dam in Mill Branch to prevent any additional flow of ammonia-contaminated water into Cotton Creek.

The DNR will continue to monitor and investigate the spill, and consider legal action if appropriate.

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