Over 750,000 Fish Dead in Missouri and Iowa After Fertilizer Spill

Over 750,000 fish are now dead in the Nishnabotna River after 1,500 tons of liquid nitrogen fertilizer spilled into the river.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources was notified about the spill by fertilizer company New Cooperative after a massive amount of nitrogen fertilizer spilled into a drainage ditch connected to the Nishnabotna River.

New Cooperative told Iowa DNR officials that the spill stemmed from a malfunctioning valve in a tank storing liquid nitrogen fertilizer that had gone unnoticed for several days.

Iowa DNR officials shared, “DNR Fisheries staff documented the fish kill occurring in all 49.8 miles of the East Nishnabotna and Nishnabotna Rivers downstream of the spill.”

The Nishnabotna River is a tributary to the Missouri River and flows through Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Per Missouri Independence:

A fertilizer spill this month in southwest Iowa killed nearly all the fish in a 60-mile stretch of river with an estimated death toll of more than 750,000, according to Iowa and Missouri conservation officers.

That is the biggest fish kill in Iowa in at least a decade and the fifth-largest on record, according to state data.

And it could have been worse: Fish populations were likely smaller than normal when the spill happened because of cold water temperatures and low river flows.

“Thank goodness, in a way, it happened when it did,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ fisheries bureau. “But this is a big one. It’s a lot of river miles that have been impacted.”

The spill originated at NEW Cooperative in Red Oak, Iowa, where a valve that either malfunctioned or was not properly closed leaked about 265,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen fertilizer, most of which went into the nearby East Nishnabotna River.

One man documented the aftermath of the fertilizer spill.



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