What's That Smell?

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV)-- According to a worker with Shenandoah River Keeper, fish in the Blacks Run waterway are dying after exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals.

Many of the fish in the waterway are half eaten by ducks and other animals.

The cleaning company, 'Squeeky Clean', stopped using the cleaning
chemical on Aug. 2, after realizing it was toxic.

After a few days of cleaning, Alan Lehman, with Shenandoah Riverkeeper, is hopeful Blacks Run will get back to normal.

"I counted 27 dead fish that had not been eaten totally by the ducks," said Lehman.

Dead fish still litter parts of Blacks Run in downtown Harrisonburg.

Lehman, who works with a group that aims to keep waterways clean, pointed out spots where he'd found all the dead fish. He originally got a tip to the status of the river from someone smelling what they thought was chlorine.

"Chemical that is both a pesticide and a cleaner that is also federally controlled chemical and it was running off the site and straight into the storm drain," said Lehman.

The chemical being used to clean buildings downtown had a wide list of ingredients, but it also had a lot of warning labels. One of the things it says is that it's highly corrosive and it's also dangerous for fish and aquatic life.

The chemical is called twelve plus. When Lehman talked with the cleaners, they stopped their work.

"Put it away and agreed not to use it anymore on this site. He was unaware this stream was right below us on the street," said Lehman.

It's attracted the attention of many Harrisonburg neighbors though, who have stopped to look at the fish.

"It affects everyone,' said Jessica Young, a Harrisonburg resident, 'if you're using a product, make sure it's healthy for the environment not just so you can get things cleaner."

Despite the dead fish, the chemical shouldn't cause too much more harm to local waterways.

"It's pretty diluted by then so we don't think there's any threat or any harm," said Lehman.

WHSV left messages with 'Squeeky Clean', but was told the owners wouldn't be available for comment until Aug. 4.

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