Was herbicide sprayed into Knapps Creek?
Frost, W.Va. – As one state agency works to restore fish habitat in Pocahontas County, another might have sprayed fish toxin into the upper reaches of Knapps Creek, a trout-reproducing stream.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources issued a news release on September 27, describing efforts to restore fish habitat in Pocahontas and Randolph Counties. The news release states that DNR wildlife biologists and WVU scientists have worked together for years to return once-pristine mountain streams to conditions that will benefit the prized brook trout.
In August, the Pocahontas County Division of Highways sprayed herbicide along several county roadways. In September, I photographed areas along Route 84, adjacent to Knapps Creek, where dying vegetation indicated herbicide spraying. To see the photographs, visit alleghenymountainradio.org. From the photographs, it appears that herbicide was sprayed directly into and near the creek.
The Pocahontas County Division of Highways informed AMR that trained technicians applied three different commercial herbicides along county roadways: Garlon, Krenite and Streamline. Product sheets for all three chemicals contain warnings not to apply the chemicals in areas where surface water is present and to not contaminate water when cleaning equipment or disposing of equipment washwater.
The product sheet for Garlon states: “This product is toxic to fish.”
On September 21, The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection sent an inspector to assess possible damage to Knapps Creek. DEP assistant chief inspector Joseph Hickman reported that visual inspection of the creek was used to determine possible contamination. Hickman wrote that the creek had been visually inspected for discoloration; presence or absence of floating contamination and; presence or absence of dead or distressed organisms.
Hickman reported by email on September 21:
“West Virginia DEP personnel visited the area illustrated in the photographs you provided. There did not appear to be any impact to the stream related to the herbicide application. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is the state regulatory agency for pesticide use and enforcement. I have forwarded your e-mails and contact information to the Enforcement Section of the West Virginia Department of Agricululture Pesticides Regulatory Programs Unit.”
AMR News will report on the response by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, as soon as information is available.