A new round of private water well testing along the Pearl River began today as a precaution after Temple-Inland Bogalusa Paper Mill released material causing a fish kill in the river around Aug. 13.
State Department of Health and Hospitals, state Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are working with officials in Washington and St. Tammany parishes to do the testing, according to a DEQ press release.
Temple-Inland has admitted responsibility for the spill of “black liquor” into the river and has agreed to pay for the testing.
“Black liquor” contains lignin and is produced by cooking wood chips and adding sodium hydroxide which has a high pH level. The process breaks down the lignin and makes the liquid easily digested by bacteria in the water. This digestion process lowers the oxygen level in the water and which can suffocate fish.
Initial testing of drinking water from public water systems by DHH and of the river water showed no problems with contaminants.
In the newest round of testing, 10 registered private water wells in each parish have been selected and samples will be taken Friday and Saturday. Results should be available by Monday and Tuesday, according to DEQ.
In addition, state agencies will begin testing seafood on Friday.
State Wildlife and Fisheries is collecting live samples of crab, shrimp and fish to be tested by DHH. The sample locations include the upper, middle and lower Pearl River, two sites not impacted by the material and at locations in the Rigolets at the mouth of the Pearl River and in Mud Lake.