Public Safety

DNR investigating Dubuque fish kill linked to fertilizer spill

More than 400,000 gallons of fertilizer spilled last week when pump from barge wasn't turned off

Iowa DNR logo
Iowa DNR logo

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is investigating a Dubuque fish kill believed to be connected to a fertilizer spill last week.

Gavilon Grain on Thursday spilled more than 430,000 gallons of 32 percent nitrogen fertilizer when a pump was left running while the company transferred fertilizer from a barge to above ground storage tanks, the DNR reported Tuesday. The facility, at 1200 Kerper Blvd., is adjacent to the Mississippi River.

When DNR officials arrived at the site Monday for a follow-up check, they found elevated ammonia levels and dead fish in the southeast corner of nearby Bee Branch Pond.

“DNR staff think recent rains may have washed fertilizer into the pond,” the news release states.

Although the DNR didn’t have a count of dead fish Monday, officials saw bluegill, walleye, largemouth bass, northern pike and channel catfish. Other dead species noted were various minnows, common carp and several giant floater mussels.

Gavilon staff is working with an environmental contractor to contain and pump up stormwater. They are also checking for underground piping that may drain to the pond, the DNR reported.

The DNR will continue to monitor cleanup and consider enforcement action, including having Gavilon pay the state restitution for the dead fish.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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