Tag Archives: Colrain

Devastating Fish Kill on the North River (Updated 9/4/19)

Rainbow trout along with several dace – victims of apparent acid spill on the North River.

The North River is one of the major tributaries of the Deerfield River; it is designated as a ‘Major River’ by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

At about 12:30 PM on September 1, I observed hundreds of dead fish at my house near the confluence with the Deerfield. I traced the multiple sizes and species of dead fish upstream to the Route 112 bridge at Call Road which is just downstream from this Barnhardt Manufacturing plant. On September 2, the DEP confirmed to reporters that a leak of sulfuric acid had occurred at this Barnhardt cotton processing facility.

CORRECTION: The dead fish included the long-nosed sucker a ‘listed’ species in Massachusetts. Read about the special status of this fish at the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species web page. The photograph below turns out to be a Longnose Dace. This species is not listed in MA. However, Leanna Fontaine is the biologist from MA F&W who was called in after I reported the spill to the MA Environmental Police. She left me a voice message today (9/3/19) stating she had seen multiple species in her sojourn out here to the North River including “black nosed and longnose dace and white suckers and longnose suckers, tessellated darters, common shiners, creek chubs and the like and a a couple of salamanders and crayfish.” So she did find longnose suckers – the species of special interest per the MA Natural Heritage and Endangered species.
Hope this information helps to further clarify the significance of this event.

I reported the fish kill and apparent spill to the MA Environmental Police. They reported it to DEP and a MA F&W biologist was notified and investigated. The media started to report the story on September 2. Here’s a video of fellow DRWTU board member Chris Jackson and I being interviewed by Channel 22 news. Here’s the story as reported by the Greenfield Recorder. Watch this website for updates as this story develops.

Through social media many local residents have expressed outrage about the failure of the plant to get the word out that a dangerous chemical had been leaked into a river that is used for fishing and swimming by their children and families. Many questions are still unanswered. Below are some photos taken by a student at Mohawk Trail Regional High School who lives along this stretch of the river.

Join us in our mission to address this issue and protect and preserve coldwater fisheries including the North River and the entire Deerfield River Watershed. Currently we have several conservation projects planned including a study of trout movement using telemetry and a September 28 river clean-up effort at Bardwells Ferry with our partner organization, the Connecticut River Conservancy. A ‘Rock Roll’ to create a cold water refuge for trout at the mouth of the Pelham Brook will get underway as soon as we get the local permits required. Become a member of our chapter, or make a donation By clicking the button below.