Quote of the moment: Rachel Carson on DDT fish kills


Cover of 1971 EPA publication, Fish Kills Caused By Pollution in 1971.

Cover of 1971 EPA publication, Fish Kills Caused By Pollution in 1971. According to the publication, in Texas, in 1971, 16 million fish died in just 6 pollution-caused incidents. (page 9 of the report).

One of the most spectacular fish kills of recent years occurred in the Colorado River below Austin, Texas, in 1961. Shortly after daylight on Sunday morning, January 15, dead fish appeared in the new Town Lake in Austin and in the river for a distance of about 5 miles below the lake. None had been seen the day before. On Monday there were reports of dead fish 50 miles downstream. . . . By January 21, fish were being killed 100 miles downstream. . . . During the last week of January the locks on the Intracoastal Waterway were closed to exclude the toxic waters from Matagorda Bay and divert them into the Gulf of Mexico.

. . . investigators in Austin noticed an odor associated with the insecticides. . . The manager of the (chemical) plant admitted that quantities of powdered insecticide had been washed into the storm sewer recently and, more significantly, he acknowledged that such disposal of insecticide spillage and residues had been common practice for the past 10 years.

. . . For 140 miles downstream from the lake the kill of fish must have been almost complete, for when seines were used later in an effort to discover whether any fish had escaped they came up empty. Dead fish of 27 species were observed, totaling about 1000 pounds to a mile of riverbank.

Rachel Carson, 1962, Silent Spring

Cribbed from the US Geological Survey site.

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