Fish kill clean-up underway on Pearl River

SLIDELL, LA (WLOX) - A massive clean-up of the Pearl River is now underway to remove thousands of dead fish killed by a paper mill's discharge.

Clean-up efforts began Thursday on the West Pearl River in Louisiana and will get started Friday morning on the Pearl River in Mississippi.

More than 100 boaters and fishermen came to Crawford's Landing in Slidell, anxious to help clean the river they love.

Boats are inspected as dozens of clean-up volunteers wait in line. The contractor overseeing this operation is hiring locals who know these waters.

"I grew up out here man. I just want to help. I want to make it better so I can come out here and fish every day, for live fish, not dead ones," said Justin Comeaux.

In a process reminiscent of the oil spill clean-up, boats are inspected while potential workers patiently wait.

"Picking up the dead fish. Make the river better so our kids will be able to go on the river," said Trinity Younce.

Louisiana set-up its command post at Crawford's Landing. Pearl River County's emergency manager came there to see about organizing a similar effort on the Mississippi side.

"This was the largest fish kill that anybody I've talked to can ever remember. I've never seen anything like this. This was a major fish kill," said Danny Manley. "A lot of the fish are deteriorating. And as they sink, they're going to deplete the oxygen as they decay under the water."

Just upriver from Crawford's Landing in Slidell, beneath the I-59 bridge, it was a similar scene.  Locals were busy checking in their boats, anxious to take part in the clean-up efforts.

Temple-Inland paper mill is responsible for the fish kill and this subsequent clean-up.

The organized effort on the Louisiana side of the river frustrated one Pearl River County supervisor.

"Having to chase down resources like this. We're having to come to Louisiana. We had to come to Louisiana to find out what was going on to start with. Now we're having to come here to get help as far as the clean-up goes to get back to Mississippi," said supervisor Patrick Lee.

A rancid smell and rotting fish parts can be found along the boat ramp at Walkaih Bluff in Mississippi. The clean-up there will begin Friday morning.

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