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Salmon killed by illegal drug activities? ^ | February 22, 2003 | Sarah Foster

Posted on 02/22/2003 5:27:25 AM PST by Movemout

Salmon killed by illegal drug activities?
Journalist's findings challenge official explanation of cause of death

Posted: February 22, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Sarah Foster
© 2003

Recently uncovered evidence strongly suggests that the deaths of 33,000 salmon and steelhead trout during last September's fall run within 20 miles of the mouth of the Klamath River in northern California was not due simply to a lack of sufficient water, as claimed by a California state agency and environmentalists, but may have been caused by contamination from illicit drug manufacturing operations near rivers in the area.

A second overlooked factor appears to have been the temperature of the Klamath River, which was too warm for salmon. This, in turn, was caused by an unpublicized diversion of water from the much colder Trinity River that flows north to meet the Klamath at the small town of Weitchpec on state highway 96.

In a report in Monday's Siskiyou Daily News, Barry Clausen, an investigator and author, challenged the official view and urged that toxicity and diversion of water from the Trinity be seriously investigated as likely contributory factors to the mysterious die-off.

According to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department and Larry Hand of the California Conservation Corps, a CCC crew last summer discovered several large glass flasks used for cooking methamphetamine on Ohpah Creek, a tributary of the Klamath River, just 21 miles from the mouth of the river. The flasks had been left on land owned by the Simpson Timber Company above the Ohpah Creek Ranch and were part of a "meth dump" – a place where unused residue and cooking utensils from meth labs are discarded.

"Could the illegal marijuana and meth producers dumping chemicals, poisons and waste above the fish kill into creeks, watersheds and river be accountable for the dead fish or at least have magnified the impact of the gill rot?" Clausen asks.

His question calls into dispute the official position of the California Department of Fish and Game detailed in a 63-page study released in early January. As WorldNetDaily reported, the department concluded that "too many migrating fish crowded into a depleted river, allowing the spread of two naturally occurring parasites that destroy the gills of fish. The salmon and steelhead subsequently died of asphyxiation."

The DFG report – which is a preliminary analysis – in effect casts the blame for the fish kill on the Bush administration's decision to release "too much water for farmers" during the spring without leaving "enough flow for the fish."

The study also warned that unless the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increases flows from the Klamath Lake in coming years, "there is a substantial risk for future fish kills on the Klamath River." The bureau is the federal agency responsible for overseeing water diversions from the Klamath.

According to the DFG report, department biologists – after eliminating various factors that could have killed the fish, including drought, a late summer heat wave and a possible spill of toxics into the river – found the only difference in the Klamath River in the fall of 2002 compared to other dry years was that the number of salmon returning from their annual spawning run was high and the amount of water in the river was low.

They determined that "no substances were found at concentrations toxic to fish and therefore were not a factor in the 2002 fish kill."

Clausen quotes the report: "Soon after the fish kill manifested itself, claims were made that toxic substances may have been the cause. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Staff collected samples from five locations on Sept. 26, 2002, to determine if any toxic substances were present at concentrations toxic to fish. These scans test for a broad spectrum of organic compounds including organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and Glyphosate."

The date of the testing poses serious problems for defenders of the DFG report.

"The samples were taken seven days after the discovery of the dead fish," Clausen points out. "The question arises – would concentrations of chemicals still be present in the alleged test areas after this length of time?"

This also was an issue that struck David Vogel, a biologist who worked for 14 years with fishery research divisions with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before starting his own environmental consulting firm, Natural Resources Scientists, in 1990.

"They [Fish and Game] state that the fish kill began Sept. 19, and yet they say that no [water] analysis was done of any potential toxic substances until Sept. 26 – seven days later," exclaimed Vogel when interviewed by WorldNetDaily. "So they conclude that toxic substances could not have caused the fish kill, when in reality there's no way in the world you could make that conclusion when the samples were taken a full week later after the fish kill was underway. I was astounded at that."

According to Clausen, who based his conclusions on interviews with numerous law-enforcement officials, toxic substances could have been introduced either from meth production or marijuana growing, the latter being a prominent "cottage industry" in the area. Marijuana growing in itself does not produce pollutants, but does pose a hazard to fish as growers use "rat poison, insecticides and pesticides to kill unwanted animals that penetrate their operations," and these work their way into the groundwater and, ultimately, the river.

Meth labs suspect

But the major suspect for toxicity would be the production of methamphetamine, which uses a variety of chemicals obtained from various sources (such as car batteries) and varying degrees of toxicity.

A few of these, listed by Clausen, include toluene, ether, drain cleaner (sulphuric acid), car batteries (lithium), Red Devil lye (sodium hydroxide), hydrochloric acid, white gas, laundry soap and diesel fuel.

"The chemicals are then cooked in such items as Pyrex dishes or large glass flasks like the ones found on Ohpah Creek," he explains. "Coffee filters are then used to filter the items cooked."

Clausen reports that law-enforcement officials he spoke with emphasized that "the chemicals end up in creeks and watersheds," and ultimately in rivers such as the Klamath.

Several members of the DFG told him they were familiar with the chemicals listed and their potential for harm: "Of course they could kill fish. The fish have gill rot, but there is the possibility they may have survived. If there was any of these chemicals in the river at any level, it would have stressed the fish and yes, it could have been a factor in the kill."

Two persons Clausen interviewed claimed there are five meth labs between Weitchpec and the mouth of the Klamath, one being known to both law enforcement and local residents as the "Crystal Palace." When asked, one Siskiyou County law-enforcement official told him, "It the truth were known, there are probably 50 labs."

Temperature factor

The other factor Clausen checked was the temperature of the Klamath River, which Vogel has insisted was too warm for salmon migrating upstream.

As Vogel explained to WorldNetDaily, "Notably absent from the [Fish and Game] report is an analysis of the water temperatures that were present in the Upper Klamath River downstream of Irongate Dam during the time of the fish kill."

He added that the information and relevant data was available, which he had studied, and it was clearly apparent that water temperatures in the main stem of the Upper Klamath were within "lethal range" for salmon.

"They were too high," he emphasized. "So Fish and Game attempts to build an argument for increased flow below Irongate Dam during early September. But the problem with that is that even if the flow had been increased, the water temperatures were unsuitably warm for salmon in the upper river. In other words there was no place for the fish to go."

Added Vogel, "It doesn’t take much increase in water temperature to have catastrophic effects on fish. Just a couple of degrees plus or minus can make it or break it for fish."

Warm water temperatures can also foster an increase in the number of death-causing parasites. "A major contributing factor in the fish kill would be the warmer temperature of the water, which Fish and Game did not take into account," said Vogel.

The question, then, is what caused this higher temperature? Basically, there was not enough cold water flowing into the Klamath to cool it off. Cold water would normally flow from the Trinity River, which is 15 degrees cooler than the Klamath. But Clausen discovered that as much as 90 percent of the Trinity's water is being diverted to the Sacramento River.

"This water would usually flow [north] into the Klamath at Weitchpec, but instead is being diverted and utilized in the Central Basin of California," he writes.

The diversion is a major concern to the Hoopa Tribe of Indians, through whose reservation the Trinity flows. Government officials had assured tribal members that the amount of water released from the Trinity Reservoir to the Sacramento would be only 50 percent.

Instead, the amount water being released from the Trinity Reservoir at the time of the fish kill was 73 percent, according to Tom Patton, a hydraulic engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation.

Many of the local Hoopa blame the die-off on this overlooked diversion of the Trinity to the Sacramento River, rather than on the diversion of the Klamath to farms of Klamath basin upstream.

Duane Sherman, who has served on the tribal council, monitors Native American fishing rights, the Trinity River diversion, water levels, water temperature and the fish kill.

"The Trinity is 15 degrees colder than the Klamath, and if the Trinity had been flowing as we were promised, the fish would not have died," Sherman told Clausen.

Asked if he blamed the upstream farmers and ranchers, he said, "No, but something different needs to be done – and soon."

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: enviralists; klamath; klamathbasincrisis; klamathlist; landgrab; salmonkill; wodlist
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I believe this possibility was discussed on FR previously.
1 posted on 02/22/2003 5:27:25 AM PST by Movemout
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To: farmfriend
The Junk(ie)Scientists have another hole in their boat.
2 posted on 02/22/2003 5:30:26 AM PST by Movemout
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To: Movemout
A fine example of yellow journalism by WND again. Joe Farah sees a bandwagon to jump on, and he's on it - pandering once again.
3 posted on 02/22/2003 6:06:44 AM PST by 11B3 (Post Vulcan Cannons At The Next "Peace" March. And USE THEM.)
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To: Movemout
But a lot of the liberal wackos I know, plus the Hollywood crowd, are users of illegal drugs, so that explains why they take the side they do in this war. They don't care about farmers, private property rights, or salmon. But they do care about drugs. Look at all the celebrities who are in and out of drug rehab. And look at all the hippies who show up at the anti-American rallies and protests.
4 posted on 02/22/2003 6:15:23 AM PST by buffyt ( Except for Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, War Has Never Solved Anything. Kfir Alfi)
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To: 11B3
I don't understand your comment. The article was written by Sarah Foster and is based on some investigative work accomplished by Clausen. It has a least as much plausibility as the state sponsored studies which may have, once again, arrived at a desired conclusion in advance of the available facts. Additionally, there is a whole host of material available in the FR archives that prove enviro-weenies want badly to get rid of the farmers in the Klamath River area.

You may have a justfiable bone to pick with Farah but it has little to do with this article.

5 posted on 02/22/2003 6:15:45 AM PST by Movemout
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To: buffyt
Guess I missed something...
what chemicals are associated with growing pot ?
6 posted on 02/22/2003 6:18:18 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: buffyt
It's not just Hollywood. The whole Northwest region of our Nation is infested with liberal parasites promoting anti-American agendas of various flavors.
7 posted on 02/22/2003 6:20:36 AM PST by Movemout
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
"Guess I missed something... what chemicals are associated with growing pot ? "

There is one passing reference to Marijuana in the article. The bulk of the article concentrates on the numerous meth labs' byproducts. The only contribution by pot cultivators might be phosphate and nitrogen run off from application of fertilizers.

8 posted on 02/22/2003 6:24:59 AM PST by Movemout
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To: Movemout
Bad editing or sloppy, uninformed reporting...
9 posted on 02/22/2003 6:37:27 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
My question exactly.
10 posted on 02/22/2003 6:40:40 AM PST by dljordan
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To: marsh2; dixiechick2000; Helen; Mama_Bear; poet; Grampa Dave; doug from upland; WolfsView; ...
Klamath ping. I don't think it is wise to try and blame this on drug labs, though the drug labs can be a problem and one of the main reasons the Grange was involved with creating the Rural Crime Task Force.
11 posted on 02/22/2003 7:06:27 AM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: *Wod_list
Assuming the article is correct, this is simply more collateral damage in the War On (some) Drugs. Cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, cleaners and other chemicals are legal and produced by companies that don't have to hide their activity to stay in business.
12 posted on 02/22/2003 7:18:23 AM PST by coloradan
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To: farmfriend
It was probably one of the problems that contributed to the fish kill. Several fishing guides had commented about the strong aroma in the lower Klamath.

That area is out of control with illegal activities.
13 posted on 02/22/2003 7:23:48 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: Grampa Dave
I still have a contact on the crime task force. He gave me a number to call. I haven't called it yet. I may throw another bone to the State Master and see what he does with it. That will be nothing since it will come from me. I may have to use channels to get the info to him.
14 posted on 02/22/2003 7:27:51 AM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: Grampa Dave
Its a good thing drugs are illegal, otherwise this might have happened.
15 posted on 02/22/2003 7:28:00 AM PST by toothless
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To: toothless
I understand that some drugs make peole toothless as well as brain and morality damaged!
16 posted on 02/22/2003 7:35:54 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: Movemout; farmfriend
I believe this possibility was discussed on FR previously.

I think it was posted by Marsh2. She lives on the Klamath.

17 posted on 02/22/2003 7:36:25 AM PST by tubebender (?)
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To: Grampa Dave
From the California State Grange's Blue Prints for Rural America.

Address the growing crime problems in rural California

Although current statistics show a decline of criminal activity in the state, the rate of criminal activity in rural California continues to grow. Crimes against agriculture, violence against family members and manufacture of dangerous drugs are all issues of growing concern to our Grange members who live in the rural counties. In the heavily farmed counties, agricultural crime in the form of commodity theft , cattle theft, chemical theft metals, and farm equipment is much more common than regularly recognized. Violence against adults and children, the result of unemployment, alcohol abuse and drug abuse continues to plague rural California. The manufacture of drugs such as methamphetamine poisons the soil, and lays waste to otherwise useful land for years to come. In some cases property owners were never aware that remote sections of their land was being used for this purpose, but were held legally liable for the costly cleanup. Farm equipment is being stolen, and transported out of the state to be sold elsewhere around the continent. Commodities worth millions of dollars are regularly stolen and sold to "entrepreneurs", as are agricultural chemicals. Livestock of many forms, usually is distributed to the larger urban areas, leaving little for the needs of the rural law enforcement sector to staff special units that can bring cases to the court system for adjudication.

Action Plan:

1. We support the efforts of the United State Justice Department Grants Program that is aimed at the development of pilot programs, joining recognized non-profit organizations and the many local departments that individually provide services to victims of violent crimes.

2. We will support changes in Federal Block Grant programs that will target rural law enforcement agencies.

18 posted on 02/22/2003 7:41:15 AM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: tubebender; Movemout
What caused salmon deaths?
19 posted on 02/22/2003 7:43:50 AM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: farmfriend
20 posted on 02/22/2003 7:46:16 AM PST by E.G.C.
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