DNR Evaluating Fish Kill As Result Of Momper Insulation Fire

By Maureen Mespell
By Rachel Martin

October 31, 2011 Updated Dec 4, 2013 at 11:34 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Department of Natural Resources say that that they are investigating a chemical spill that resulted in a fish kill in the Junk Ditch from Sunday's Momper Insulation fire.

The business had toxic substances on the premises and Conservation Offices along with Fort Wayne City Utilities were able to create an earthen dam on the ditch to prevent the water from flowing into the St. Mary's river.

DNR is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in evaluating the extent of the impact on fish and wildlife.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) officals said the hazardous chemical is Polymeric Diphenylmethane Diisocyanate, otherwise known as a form of cyanide. It is one of the least hazardous forms of cyanide, but can still irritate the eyes and lungs. Rich Hackel, On-Scene Coordinator with IDEM, said they did catch a significant portion of the run-off in Junk Ditch by building dams and using sand bags and cotton booms.

“At this point as far as public water supply, there shouldn’t be any issue,” Hackle said. “The fire department and the city’s response was very good working with our people by phone, identified possible actions to take at the time, which included isolating it through damming the stretch of the creek that was impacted.”

However, it's not clear how much of the toxins were able make its way along Junk Ditch before the dams were built, but it is known at least some of the toxins escaped because officials from the DNR reported numerous fish died as a result of the toxins along the ditch.

Hackel said all the contaminates are isolated to Junk Ditch and it would take a long time for the contaminates to makes its way into the ground water that would effect water supply locally.

“We should have it treated long before it should do that.”

Hackel told Indiana’s NewsCenter that owner Matt Momper, hired a contractor to build an on-site filtration system. The company will draw the water out of the ditch, filter and treat it, and release back into waterways. Hackle said it will be similar to a filtration system used for pools, houses, and wells.

“It’s going to be a larger system with huge tanks for filters. There will probably be some sort of actual mechanical system with water flowing through some sort of medium the water contaminates will attach to,” Hackel said. “There will probably be a second stage that will involve charcoal and carbon which the water will filter through to react with and neutralize.”

Hackel said the contaminated water will be filtered and removed beginning Wednesday.

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