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Fish kills diminish in Virginia rivers; Investigation narrows focus on possible causes


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2007
Contact:Bill Hayden, DEQ
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

Gwen Dean, DGIF
(804) 367-2225
gwen.dean@dgif.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- Fish kills that have affected the Shenandoah, James, Cowpasture and Maury rivers this spring apparently are abating, investigators announced today. This matches the pattern seen in similar fish kills on the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah that began in 2004.

Fish collections this week from the affected rivers have shown fewer problems than those taken earlier in the season, and reports from citizens have been declining. Though scientists have not confirmed any causes of the fish kills, the investigation is making progress and is now concentrating on several key areas.

The Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are coordinating the fish kill investigation. Numerous studies are under way to narrow the focus of possible causes of the fish illnesses and deaths. The current investigation includes:

• An expanded advisory group of scientists to include areas such as fisheries, fish diseases, microbiology, chemistry and agriculture to provide additional expertise for the investigation. DEQ and DGIF expect the panel to be in place in July.

• Analysis of the chemical makeup of agricultural waste streams in the river watersheds. Many of the water quality tests so far have been evaluations of river water and have focused specifically on nutrients and ammonia, which are normally associated with agricultural waste. A plan is under development for expanded, comprehensive testing of waste streams and sources connected with agricultural land uses, with assistance from the Department of Conservation and Recreation. That information will be compared with chemicals found in fish tissue, sediments and water in the fish kill areas.

• Continued evaluation of viruses, bacteria and parasites. This is being coordinated with work by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disease laboratory, and Cornell University. Also, numerous fish collected this spring are being saved for further analysis, after additional chemical information comes in from water quality and agricultural samples.

Anyone with information about the fish kills is asked to call the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to fishreports@deq.virginia.gov. Detailed information about the fish kills is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov and the DGIF website at www.dgif.virginia.gov.


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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: June 15, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Virginia issues solid waste report for 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2007

Contact:
Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

VIRGINIA ISSUES SOLID WASTE REPORT FOR 2006

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality released its annual report today on solid waste management in Virginia. The report includes the amounts of solid waste managed in Virginia in 2006, and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the Commonwealth.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2006 increased by about 162,500 tons from 2005. Solid waste includes municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, vegetative and yard waste, and other types of waste. The total amount of solid waste from outside Virginia increased by about 248,000 tons (3.5 percent) from a little more than 7 million tons to about 7.3 million tons. The total amount from within Virginia decreased by 85,000 tons (0.5 percent), remaining around 17.9 million tons.

Other findings of the report include:

• Of the nearly 25 million tons of solid waste reported in 2006, about 16.8 million tons (66.7 percent) were municipal solid waste, which is trash from households and businesses.

• The total amount of municipal solid waste generated outside Virginia was 5.7 million tons, an increase of about 35,000 tons (0.6 percent). Maryland, New York, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and New Jersey accounted for 96.4 percent of all waste received from out-of-state sources.

• Of the total solid waste reported in 2006, construction and demolition debris accounted for about 17.3 percent of the total.

• Of the total solid waste managed in Virginia in 2006, about 17 million tons (81.4 percent) were disposed of in landfills, about 2.1 million tons (10.2 percent) were incinerated and the rest was managed by other means, including mulching and recycling.

The full solid waste report is available on the DEQ web site at www.deq.virginia.gov.

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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: June 13, 2007 at 11:38 am

Fish kills continue on Virginia rivers; task force expands investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2007

Contact: Bill Hayden, DEQ
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov
Julia Dixon, DGIF
(804) 367-0991
julia.dixon@dgif.virginia.gov

FISH KILLS CONTINUE ON VIRGINIA RIVERS;
TASK FORCE EXPANDS INVESTIGATION

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia task force that began studying fish kills in the Shenandoah River system in 2005 has expanded its work to include the Cowpasture, Maury and upper James rivers. Fish that have either died or are ill have been observed in these rivers for the past several weeks.

The fish species mainly affected continue to be smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish, though other types of fish have been found with sores. The task force, headed by the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is coordinating efforts with anglers, conservation organizations and university scientists to identify the location and extent of the fish kills.

In the past three weeks, the number of reports of distressed fish has continued to increase. On the James, the fish have been found as far downstream as Lynchburg. DEQ and DGIF biologists also are investigating new reports from Buena Vista on the Maury River and the mainstem Shenandoah River.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collected sediment samples in late May to test for toxicity and estrogen-related chemicals in some of the rivers. Water samples have been collected from the affected rivers to be tested for known fish viruses. Weekly and continuous water quality monitoring is still under way, and the task force remains in contact with counterparts in West Virginia as they investigate similar fish kills in the Potomac River system.

The task force encourages the public to provide any information on the location, number and type of fish found dead or sick in the Shenandoah, Cowpasture and James river systems. Distressed fish are found mainly in eddies and shallow areas away from the main current.

Anyone with information is asked to call the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to fishreports@deq.virginia.gov. Detailed information about the fish kills is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: June 07, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Scientists investigate fish kill reports on upper James, lower Cowpasture rivers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
5/17/2007

RICHMOND, VA. -- Virginia officials again are seeking the public’s assistance in determining the extent of fish kills as reports of dead and dying fish are investigated on the upper James River and the lower Cowpasture River.

In the past two weeks, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries received scattered reports of dead fish in the lower Cowpasture. This week, reports surfaced of affected fish in the upper James. DEQ and DGIF investigated these reports more thoroughly on May 16 and found affected fish on the Cowpasture, mainly downstream of Route 39; on the James near Buchanan in Botetourt County; and on the James at Horseshoe Bend, also known as Narrow Passage, upstream of Buchanan.

On the Cowpasture, rock bass, smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish had lesions. The number of fish with lesions near Buchanan was small, but scientists believe the situation requires further investigation. Smallmouth bass, rock bass and redbreast sunfish are the main species affected. At Horseshoe Bend, numerous fish with larger lesions were found. Northern hogsucker, smallmouth bass, rock bass, largemouth bass and redbreast sunfish are mainly affected, and numerous dead fish also were observed. The observations on the James River are similar to fish kills in the Shenandoah River watershed in the past three years.

The internal organs of these fish have been preserved for analysis. In addition, DEQ and DGIF plan a combined effort the week of May 21 to collect fish on the James, Cowpasture and Shenandoah rivers. The fish will be sent to several laboratories, microscopically examined, and tested for bacteria and viruses. Scientists have found no indication of human health concerns with the water or fish.

The Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force is coordinating this latest investigation with additional biologists from DEQ and DGIF, as well as with angler groups and university scientists. The task force continues to receive reports of fish kills on the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah. The public is encouraged to provide any information on the location, number and type of fish found dead or sick in the Shenandoah, Cowpasture and James river systems. Distressed fish are found mainly in eddies, shallow areas and slow-moving waters away from the main current.

Anyone with information is asked to call the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to fishreports@deq.virginia.gov.

From: Julia Wellman

Sent: May 17, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Virginia seeks public's help in fish kill investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
4/26/2007

RICHMOND, VA. -- Reports of dead and dying fish throughout the Shenandoah River watershed this week have prompted Virginia officials to seek the public’s assistance in determining the extent of the problem.

The Department of Environmental Quality began receiving reports on Monday of dead and dying fish on the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River. Since then, DEQ, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and other members of the Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force have been canvassing the river system to determine the condition of fish, primarily smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish.

The task force encourages the public to provide any information on the location, number and type of fish found dead or sick in the mainstem Shenandoah, the North and South Forks, South River, Middle River or North River. Distressed fish are found mainly in eddies, shallow areas and slow-moving waters away from the main current.

Anyone with information is asked to call the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to fishreports@deq.virginia.gov.

About two dozen dead fish were found Monday on the North Fork several miles downstream of Woodstock, on the South Fork between Bentonville and Front Royal, and about six miles upstream of Elkton on the South Fork. A number of live fish with skin lesions or abnormal behavior also were observed. Along the South Fork on Tuesday, an undetermined number of dead and dying fish were found between Bentonville and Karo, and about a dozen fish were found between Island Ford and Elkton.

Fish kills have begun in the Shenandoah River system during the spring of each of the past three years, and the task force has been seeking the causes since 2004.

From: Julia Wellman

Sent: April 26, 2007 at 12:15 pm