Officials from the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge say a spill of chlorinated water over the weekend killed approximately 8500 minnow-sized fish and almost 30 salamanders. A Y-12 statement says about 6,000,000 gallons of the water poured into East Fork Poplar Creek on Saturday when a pipeline burst. Crews from Y-12 were able to contain the spill and inspections on Sunday revealed no additional casualties of fish or other aquatic wildlife. Biologists from nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory predict the long-term effect of the spill on fish and salamanders will be minimal.
East Fork Poplar Creek originates from a spring beneath Y-12 and flows through the city of Oak Ridge before eventually emptying into the Clinch River. For decades, it has been contaminated with mercury, PCB's and other hazardous materials, many generated from operations at Y-12. Advisories along the creek warn visitors to avoid swimming or wading in the water and the fish are considered unsafe to eat.