Some trout remain in Cecil stream

But no hatchlings found within mile of dam accident

April 26, 2001|By Heather Dewar | Heather Dewar,SUN STAFF

Some trout remain in a Cecil County trout stream that was polluted by the blowout of a dam under construction in December, but there are no signs of hatchlings within a mile or more of the accident site, state biologists said yesterday.

The accident at the Woodlawn Landfill Superfund site near Rising Sun sent tons of rock and sediment pouring into the unnamed stream, considered one of Maryland's prime breeding grounds for brown trout.

The sediment has drifted nearly two miles downstream, covering gravel beds where trout were expected to spawn, said Steve Early, associate director of freshwater fisheries for Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.

Last week, a DNR trout expert found eight recently hatched young trout, or fry, in an unaffected area about two miles downstream. But none has been found closer to the accident site, Early said. It's not clear whether the lack of fry is "due to a poor year or the result of an impact" from the accident, he said.

Arcadis Geraghty and Miller, the contractor supervising the dam's construction on the Superfund site, have blamed faulty construction for the dam's failure and agreed to restore the stream. But the restoration was delayed by legal concerns and disagreements about the best techniques to use.

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment said the agency hopes the company will sign a proposed consent decree within a few days.

Some stream restoration work has begun, but Early said silt continues to move downstream, threatening undamaged areas.

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