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Fish kill being investigated on Escanaba River in Delta County August 12, 2020

Personnel from the Michigan Departments of Natural Resources and Environment, Great Lakes and Energy are investigating a fish kill incident along the lower reaches of the Middle Branch of the Escanaba River.

The fish kill – which was reported Aug. 9 and responded to by state agencies the following day – occurred near Gladstone, downstream of Verso Corporation’s Escanaba Paper Mill.

“The mill reported last week that a ruptured pipe had impacted the mill’s wastewater treatment plant,” said Jay Parent, district supervisor for EGLE’s Water Resources Division. “The pipe failure has been corrected and outflowing water quality is improving, with test results pending.”

DNR fisheries personnel said numerous fish were killed. A dozen species were affected, ranging from various panfish and walleye to northern pike and largemouth bass.

“The specific area of the Escanaba River that has been impacted is between Dam No. 2 and the mouth of the Escanaba River, a distance of about 3 miles,” said Tom Asmus, of EGLE’s Water Resources Division. “Both agencies are monitoring water quality in the area.”

Investigation into the fish kill is ongoing, with the cooperation of Verso officials.

The Escanaba River is a 52-mile stream long a popular destination for anglers.

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