Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dam floodwaters are killing hundreds of thousands of fish EVERY DAY - 27th may 2011

Affected: up to 100,000 fish are dying a day due to nitrogen poisoning.

Fish are dying in their hundreds of thousands after authorities increased the water flow at a Washington state dam.

The fish are being poisoned by an excess of nitrogen gas in the Columbia river, down stream from the Grand Coulee Dam.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the dam, has been forced to increase the flow rate after a large winter snow melt swelled water levels.

The increase in water flow has resulted in a 130 per cent rise in nitrogen down stream of the dam, causing the fish to die of the bends.

The painful condition can occur when scuba divers surface too quickly, causing the air they breathe from tanks to form painful and sometimes fatal bubbles in the blood.

Speaking to the Seattle Times, fish farmer Bill Clark said: 'We've easily got hundreds of thousands of dead fish.'

Pacific Seafood, a parent company of Mr Clark's employers, says it is losing 100,000 fish a day from the poisoning.

John Bielka, who works for partner firm Pacific Aquaculture, said: 'They're basically sterilising this entire stretch of river.

'That's going to wipe out not only the fish in our farm, but also the bull trout, the lamprey, the sturgeon and every other wild thing.'

Bosses at the firm are now concerned for the remaining 2.7 million fish still alive 20 miles south of the Grand Coulee dam.

Despite knowing about the issue, bureau officials have confirmed the problem will get worse.

Officials added that wild fish should not suffer as much as the farmed varieties because they can dive deeper to avoid the excess gasses.

Speaking to the paper, Charles Hudson of the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, said: 'In a normal year, this wouldn't be a big problem. But Mother Nature is running the Columbia River right now.' Source