Ohio EPA Investigating Fish Killed During Athens Co. Bridge Maintenance

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The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is still looking into complaints about an incident involving the Athens County Engineer's department.

The Ohio EPA says a large number of fish were killed during bridge maintenance the engineer's department was doing about two weeks ago.

County Engineer Archie Stanley says the cement was expected to fall into Canaan Township's Cherry Creek during the maintenance.

But he says it was no accident — and there's been no wrongdoing.

"We had some people down there kind of accusing us of just pouring waste concrete into the stream, but we don't do that kind of crap," said Stanley. "We were doing bridge maintenance, and in fact, we did two that day, and to the best of my knowledge, we didn't kill any fish anywhere."

Stanley says the cement should have been caught by a stone dam workers built downstream.

He says some "residual cement foam" did go over the dam, but when he inspected the creek, he didn't notice any dead fish.

That's not what inspectors with the Ohio EPA saw, though.

"This incident unfortunately did result in a fish kill in which there was a large number of fish killed as a result of that work," says Erin Strouse, Ohio EPA spokeswoman. "They were small fish, but they were important in this high-quality stream."

One resident who lives nearby says he called two state agencies when he discovered the dead fish.

Mike Yandrich says he and his family have been working to restore the creek, so he's upset about what he saw.

"Where the work was done… if you had gone upstream, you know, 10 feet, there were pools of lots of fish swimming around in them, and as soon as you went downstream from the worksite, it was just — everything was dead at that point, so it was really apparent what caused it."

Strouse says the Ohio EPA will be working with county engineers to come up with a plan to minimize environmental damage in the future.