100 Fish Killed in Virginia Hazmat Incident

by Craig Garrett

Approximately 100 fish were killed on Wednesday due to an illegal dump of a mysterious substance, according to officials in Arlington. On Thursday, the Department of Environmental Services announced they had an idea of what happened. Their belief was that someone had illegally dumped an unknown substance in a catch basin close by. Crews from the Arlington Fire & EMS responded to a hazardous materials situation on South Walter Reed Drive and South Taylor Street. The fire department initially advised residents and pets in the area to stay out of the water. This was while they worked with the Arlington Department of Environmental Services to determine what occurred, WJLA-TV reports.

EMS crews tweeted that hazmat crews had discovered the source of the fish dying. People are being advised to stay away from the affected water in Four Mile Run from Walter Reed Drive to the Potomac River. They’re also being told to keep pets away.

“Stream water can contain microorganisms that can make people sick,” the Department of Environmental Services advised. They stressed that the streams are dangerous regardless of their location. “Whether the stream is located in an urban area or in the middle of a forest,” authorities said.

Authorities report a “chemical smell” near the dead fish

Peter Golkin, an agency spokesman, attempted to explain their finding to the public. He said initial findings showed that there was a “chemical smell” near a storm drain and that “would indicate that someone probably poured something not good down there.” Illegal dumping of chemicals into streams harms fish, wildlife, and the environment, Golkin noted as a reminder to the public.

“There are no filters on storm drains, so anything that goes down will work its way into the watershed, into the streams, and ultimately can reach the Chesapeake Bay,” Golkin explained. Four Mile Run Park is open to the public, and there are no closures to any of the trails or grounds in this park. However, authorities advised visitors and their pets to avoid the water in that region. They also offered several pointers on stream safety. They advised that none of the streams are treated or filtered. Regardless of spill status, they urge the public to never drink the water. They also advise the public to never swim or bathe in the streams.

Peter Golkin said there is no cleanup plan. He claims that rain is typically the best way to deal with a spill. This is because the rain “pushes and dissipates whatever was dumped.” The Little Falls of the Potomac flows into the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Arlington. It has one of the largest watersheds in Maryland. The stream’s length is approximately nine miles and it drains an area of approximately three hundred and fifty square kilometers.