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DNR investigates Escanaba River fish kill near paper mill

ESCANABA — A fish kill along the lower reaches of the Middle Branch of the Escanaba River is under investigation, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

The incident, which was reported Sunday, occurred near Gladstone, downstream of Verso Corp.’s Escanaba paper mill. State agencies responded the following day.

“The mill reported last week that a ruptured pipe had impacted the mill’s wastewater treatment plant,” said Jay Parent, district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. “The pipe failure has been corrected and outflowing water quality is improving, with test results pending.”

DNR fisheries personnel said numerous fish were killed. A dozen species were affected, ranging from various panfish and walleye to northern pike and largemouth bass.

“The specific area of the Escanaba River that has been impacted is between Dam No. 2 and the mouth of the Escanaba River, a distance of about 3 miles,” said Tom Asmus, of EGLE’s Water Resources Division. “Both agencies are monitoring water quality in the area.”

Investigation into the fish kill is ongoing, with the cooperation of Verso officials.

The Escanaba River is a 52-mile stream long a popular destination for anglers.

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