Officials Investigate Fish Kill Along Black Warrior River

A dead fish floats along a tributary of the Black Warrior River, downstream of Alabama Power’s Plant Gorgas in Walker County. (Source: Nelson Brooke,Black Warrior Riverkeeper)

State officials are looking into a fish kill that happened near Alabama Power’s Plant Gorgas in Walker County. The coal-fired plant sits along a tributary of the Black Warrior River.

Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke says he first heard about the incident Friday morning from a local fisherman. Brooke says he was not allowed to access the fenced area of the creek near the power plant, but counted at least 100 dead fish downstream.

“Whatever happened out there must have been really nasty,” Brooke says, “(Because) there were really large gar all over the place, large catfish, large bass.” 

In a statement, Alabama Power says it is supporting an investigation by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to determine the cause of the incident. This is not the first reported fish kill at this location. The last case occurred in 2016. Alabama Power denied responsibility for the incident and ADEM did not determine a cause.

Plant Gorgas is scheduled to close April 15. Alabama Power announced the decision in February, citing costly, federal environmental mandates related to the handling of coal ash and wastewater.