Fish kill investigated
By Jane Beathard
On Monday, investigators from three state agencies were on the scene of a fish kill in southern Madison County.
A deer hunter stumbled on a dozen dead carp floating on Bradford Branch in Range Township on Sunday and notified the property owner. In turn, that farmer notified the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). OEPA emergency response staff arrived within hours.
By daybreak Monday, local residents and investigators from the Ohio departments of agriculture and natural resources were also taking stock of hundreds of dead fish along a seven-mile stretch of Bradford Branch and Bradford Creek. The creek is a tributary of Deer Creek.
Most of the dead fish appeared to be minnow or fingerling size.
Manure from a clogged disposal system at Rising Sun Dairy, 8500 Yankeetown-Chenoweth Road, appeared to be the source of the kill, according to Erin Strouse, OEPA spokesperson.
“They are not sure when the (spill) occurred,” Strouse said. “But measurements in the creek showed it was not more than a day or two old.”
Dairy managers were working Monday morning to scrape and dam the polluted ditch and pump manure-filled water away. They also plan to replace the malfunctioning disposal system, Strouse said.
The permit dairy has a history of legal problems involving manure spills and fish kills. In 2010, then-owners Pieter and Johannes Assen, as well as a commercial applicator, paid a total of $27,500 in fines for polluting Bradford Creek by spreading manure improperly prior to spring rains. Those incidents killed hundreds of fish, frogs and other amphibians.
In June 2011, the dairy was again embroiled in controversy when local residents and Union Township trustees complained a convoy of trucks hauling manure from the farm caused the chip-and-sealed surface of Deck Road to disintegrate.
In August 2011, Jim Zehringer, former director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, granted the dairy permits to expand and increase its herd size to 2,500 cows.
County residents David and LaDonna Thomas and Bob Higgins, as well as trustees from Paint and Union townships and the Madison County commissioners, unsuccessfully appealed that decision to the state’s environmental appeals commission.
No additional appeals are planned, county prosecutor Steve Pronai said.