Ohio company will pay nearly $250K for Michigan fish kill

Coast Guard issues gale watch for Lake Michigan
Posted at 11:11 AM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 13:40:29-05

ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) — A paper mill in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has agreed to pay nearly $250,000 to settle an investigation of a fish kill in the Escanaba River, state regulators said.

A “catastrophic pipe failure” at the Verso Corp. site in Escanaba resulted in a discharge of partially treated wastewater in August 2020, regulators said.

The mill generates a pollutant known as “black liquor,” which typically is burned as an energy source, the Michigan environment department said.

The river was deprived of oxygen, and fish — pike, bass, walleye and others — were killed for three miles. The Escanaba River runs for 52 miles from Marquette County to Lake Michigan.

Verso, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, will pay $244,000 in civil penalties and natural resource damages, the state said.

An email seeking comment was sent to the company Thursday.

The Escanaba mill has been making paper since 1911 and is located on Little Bay de Noc. The mill employs approximately 830 people and produces 730,000 tons of paper per year, according to the Verso website.