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Spilled dishwashing detergent killed nearly 10,000 fish in Tuscarawas River

Carolynn Mostyn
Suburbanite correspondent
Nearly 10,000 fish were killed in an eight-mile stretch of the Tuscarawas River on Aug. 17 after dishwasher detergent spilled into storm drain that led to the river.

SPRINGFIELD TWP. Residents living along the Tuscarawas River in the Springfield Township and Hartville areas discovered hundreds of dead fish were seen floating in the river on Aug. 17.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was called and spokesperson Heidi Griesmer said the agency found foam in the river. The EPA then began aerating the water to break down what appeared to be soap.

Six large pumps were running on Twin Lakes Drive near the Sweitzer Road intersection. This process also increased the oxygen level in the water. Approximately eight miles of river and tributaries were impacted as well as areas around Hartville.

It was found that the material was dishwashing detergent that was dumped onto the ground in close proximity to a storm drain. Rain pushed the material to the river which resulted in the foam and fish kill.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) spokesperson Jamey Emmert said the investigation continues and that 9,990 dead fish have been counted along the Tuscarawas River along the Stark and Summit County line.

ODNR is working closely with the EPA on the ongoing investigation. Officers working in the field are processing the impacted wildlife offsite. Beside the many fish that were killed, dead freshwater clams have been found to be impacted by the detergent.

Springfield Residents Jim and Diane Millard said they have lived in their house for 44 years near the Tuscarawas River in the area of Pontius Road and they have never seen anything like the incident. A live fish could not be found in that area of the river.