The water was milky white and there were a half-dozen dead minnows on Thursday evening, but the Oak Ridge Fire Department was unable to find any hazardous materials in a small creek that flows through Alvin K. Bissell Park in the center of the city.
“We couldn’t detect what it actually was, and we couldn’t find any place that it was introduced into the stream,” ORFD Chief Darryl Kerley said Friday.
Kerley said medium and larger fish in the area were okay and so was a snapping turtle.
The fire department responded at about 6:38 p.m. Thursday after a resident reported discoloration in the creek and several dead fish. The fire department placed a boom across the stream to see if any product could be collected. The contaminant appeared to be soluble in the water and neutral in specific gravity because it was not floating or sinking in the water, an ORFD report said. Several samples of the water were taken and analyzed on the scene using the HazMat ID system.
“No specific foreign product could be identified,” the report said. “The pH was measured at above 7, and the dead fish were collected and turned over to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for analysis.”
The report said officials from Tennessee Department of Water Quality arrived Friday morning to further evaluate the stream conditions.
Kerley said the material in the water was very diluted, and local and state officials were unable to determine the nature of the materials, whether they came from a chemical spill, and how they ended up in the creek. Emergency crews from several state and local agencies responded, including five ORFD units, and they remained at the scene for about 1.5 hours Thursday.