No-swim advisory for North Fork River still in effect

The no-swim advisory at the North Fork River is still in effect and will be for an unknown length of time.

Sam Perkins, the Catawba Riverkeeper, said officials have identified one company that’s likely the cause of the fish kill that occurred this week along the North Fork portion of the Catawba River that runs near Marion in McDowell County.

The company, which is not being named since it hasn’t officially been cited yet, has “a history of problems complying with the law,” Perkins told the Observer.

Whatever chemical was released from the company’s wastewater treatment center, Perkins said, could make its way into Lake James, though officials are working to impede the flow by using hay, for example.

The no-swim advisory affects the 7 miles of the North Fork River from Woodlawn down to where the river meets Lake James and the main stem of the Catawba River.

According to the McDowell County Incident Management Team, Wildlife Resources personnel found over 400 dead fish in a 120-yard stretch of the river, though the affected area of the whole kill was about 2 miles.

As of Saturday morning, 6,000 gallons of liquid had been collected and thrown away, McDowell County officials said in a statement Saturday.

About 25 local, state and federal agencies (including the Environmental Protection Agency) have worked around the clock “for days,” the officials said, and have been conducting tests, managing the situation and monitoring waterways.

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Twitter: @katieperalta