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Suspected chemical spill kills fish in Port Coquitlam

VANCOUVER - Thousands of dead Coho salmon fry are floating around in a “toxic soup” after a chemical spill in Port Coquitlam’s Hyde Creek.

Ted Wingrove, the president of the Hyde Creek Watershed Society, told Vancouver 24 hours that Sunday’s discovery has left him devastated.

“It’s a substantial loss, there are several thousand that have died,” Wingrove said. “They were virtually suffocated and burned, all their gills are bleeding. Whatever it is, these are some serious chemicals.”

Two officers from Environment Canada are currently on scene trying to identify the chemicals in the creek and track their origin.

They’re also conducting an environmental assessment at the creek.

It’s believed the chemicals were flushed down a storm drain – which feeds into the creek – from the surrounding neighbourhood.

But even finding the culprit won’t undo the damage that’s been caused.

“We have one of the best salmon runs in the Lower Mainland, but it’s obviously going to be quite down at the next cycle,” Wingrove said. “It’s a shame because the Coho is already disappearing in the Lower Mainland.”

And even with global warming getting all the headlines, it’s our carelessness that is the biggest killer at creeks and rivers, according to Wingrove.

Disposed chemicals from drug labs have become especially harmful.

“We’ve been trying to educate people for years,” he said. “We have someone that goes around and paints yellow fish on the storm drains, which means dump nothing down the drain. But many people don’t listen or care.”

Matt Kieltyka reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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