Fish kill costs company $3.3 million


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A company which caused the deaths of thousands of fish in a U.S. river was yesterday ordered to pay $3.3 million (around £2.18m) in fines and serve two years of probation.

Temple Inland. a subsidiary of International Paper, polluted the Pearl River in August 2011 with illegal discharges from its paper manufacturing plant in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The dead fish included protected Gulf sturgeon and more than 1,000 fish in a wildlife refuge.

The company pleaded guilty in February to charges of negligent violation of both the Clean Water Act and the Refuge Act.

The pollution incident occurred when equipment at the mill malfunctioned, causing untreated 'black liquor' wastewater to flow into the Pearl River. Although black liquor isn't toxic, it severely depletes oxygen levels, and in this case caused around 160,000 fish 400,000 freshwater mussels to suffocate. It reportedly continued to flow into the river for three days, until the plant was shut down.

The company was ordered to pay $1.2m in restitution and a criminal fine of $1.5m. The restitution money will be used to buy and protect land and waters in the Pearl River basin and to pay for a study focused on the recovery of Gulf sturgeon in the river.

In addition, Temple Inland is to pay $500,000 to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for monitoring and responding to chemical spills; $50,000 to the Louisiana State Police emergency services unit; and $50,000 to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Network, for training.

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