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Illegal dumping suspected in 'total' salmon kill

An illegal dumping of chemicals in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek has possibly killed the stream’s entire salmon population.

An illegal dumping of chemicals in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek has possibly killed the stream’s entire salmon population.

The creek was home to as many as 2,000 coho and chum salmon, which were suffocated by the chemicals.

Joan Carne, a stream keeper for Byrne Creek for 12 years, said it was a “total kill” as the fish were found dead Thursday in a pool of foamy water.

The dead fish accounted for two full generations of salmon, as both the newborn fry and one-year-old juveniles heading out to sea were killed.

The culprit is likely an industrial cleaner that was dumped near the Edmonds SkyTrain station.

“Best guess at this point is that it was a cleaning compound, there was strong ammonia smell, and a very high PH level,” said Carne.

“It has to be a significant amount. It wasn’t just a householder with a bucket of wash water. One would expect something industrial.”

Carne stressed that this is not the first time that chemicals have been dumped in the stream. She is frustrated that a series of incidents have gone un-checked by Environment Canada.

“On one occasion the culprit was caught dumping into the storm drain red-handed,” said Carne.

“But the investigation was passed on to Environment Canada and the investigation was dropped.”

This is the fifth major kill in the creek since 1998, according to Carne. She said it takes as long as four years for the salmon to re-build the population after two full generations of fish have been killed.

“All drains lead to fish habitat,” said Carne.

 
 
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