Fish Kill At Port Of Catoosa Caused By Ammonia Leak

Wednesday, June 1st 2011, 1:19 pm
By: News On 6

CATOOSA, Oklahoma -- A release of ammonia vapors from a barge loading at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa Tuesday has resulted in dead fish in the immediate vicinity of the incident.

According to a Port of Catoosa news release, the vapor release came as workers on a towboat loading the commonly-used fertilizer chemical dropped a hose into channel.

Port of Catoosa officials say the fertilizer is harmful to fish that swim near the spill because oxygen is depleted from the water by the fertilizer. In order to increase oxygen levels, boats have been aerating the water surrounding the spill area.

The barge and towboat were being operated by Southern Towing of Memphis, Tennessee. The fertilizer was produced by the CF Industries facility at the Port of Catoosa.

Carl Wallace, general manager of the CF Industries facility says one its employees first noticed the leak Tuesday.

On May 31, 2011, while conducting routine operational and safety procedures at the CF Industries dock in the Port of Catoosa, a company employee discovered evidence of an ammonia release from a barge being operated by Southern Towing of Memphis, TN, a contractor providing services to CF Industries. The employee immediately notified the captain of the towboat who, in turn, notified the port authority.  Southern Towing has undertaken remediation steps at the port. 

Bill Stegbauer, President of Southern Towing, said his company and crews are working with the U.S. Coast Guard to remove all the dead fish and bring the oxygen levels in the channel back to normal.

Stegbauer says his firm is also developing new rules to ensure that this type of incident doesn't happen again.