Chem Plant Fire Runoff Forces Advisory

Friday, June 12, 2015 @ 02:06 PM gHale

Thousands of fish died in a Pennsylvania creek following possible contamination from runoff from firefighters battling a massive chemical fire that destroyed a plant Monday.

State environmental officials said they found contaminants in the water following the fire at Miller Chemical and Fertilizer Plant in Conewago, Adams County.

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Officials in Adams and York counties are advising people not to fish, boat or swim in certain sections of the Conewago Creek until further notice.

Spokesman Eric Levis of the state Fish and Boat Commission said there were dead fish in an area covering a 10- to 15-mile span. He said a conservation officer is trying to determine how many fish died and what species they are.

Miller Chemical manufactures nonhazardous crop protection and nutritional agrochemicals.

However, safety data for the Miller Chemical and Fertilizer Corp., outlined in Crop Data Management Systems (CDMS) agro-chemical database show the York County company handles substances that carry strict guidelines on their storage, hazards and course of action in case of spills or human contact.

One warning reads:

“This product may be toxic to aquatic organisms. Do not apply to or allow runoff to reach lakes, streams or ponds. ….Do not apply within 25 feet, or by air within 150 feet of lakes, reservoirs, rivers, permanent streams, marshes or natural ponds, estuaries and commercial fish farm ponds.”

It is not clear from the chemical data provided in the CDMS agro-chemical database if all the listed substances were at the Conewago Township plant. The CDMS data does not note if companies are handling chemicals correctly.

In addition to a mandatory water restriction issued by the state on Tuesday, officials on Wednesday issued an advisory urging residents to refrain from water recreational activities on sections of the Conewago Creek.