Ammonia Leak in San Pedro Creek Left Dozens of Dead Fish Floating in the San Antonio River

Katie Hennessey
An eerie vibe pervaded near the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Wednesday. Dozens of dead fish floated in the murky water, and a pungent odor loomed over the area.

A man fishing late that afternoon said he'd one seen one live fish in the several hours he spent at the confluence of the San Pedro Creek and San Antonio River.

The San Antonio River Authority attributed the deaths of the fish to a Monday night ammonia leak from the Kiolbassa Smoked Meats plant on nearby South Brazos Street.

In a statement to News4SA, Kiolbassa Smoked Meats spokeswoman Laura Waldrum said an accident at the plant triggered an ammonia leak from a refrigeration system. The San Antonio Fired Department used water to dilute the exposure of ammonia into the air, and that water drained into the storm inlet, entering San Pedro Creek, she added.

The San Antonio River Authority received notice about the strong ammonia odor on Tuesday, according to a statement from the organization. Its environmental team initially found at least 50 dead fish. As they continued to monitor the situation, team members found more dead fish Wednesday.
click to enlarge KATIE HENNESSEY
Katie Hennessey

"We also received a report of dead fish observed at the confluence of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River on the Mission Reach segment," SARA said in its statement.

"Environmental Sciences and Watershed & Park Operations staff are working on collecting the fish and monitoring water quality conditions."

In her statement to News4, Waldrum said the mishap was a "one-time event,” adding that Kiolbassa is working with SARA, the San Antonio Water System and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to mitigate the impact.

"We deeply regret the effects of this event on the environment and will continue to work with local and state officials to rectify the situation," she said.

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