Popular Alabama lake, river closed to public recreation after 900 gallon sulfuric acid spill

HANCEVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) –  The Black Warrior Riverkeepers are asking the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to fine a Hanceville-area company for dumping 900 gallons of sulfuric acid into a body of water at Mulberry Fork.

ADEM announced Thursday it was investigating American Proteins in Hanceville, a chicken rendering plant, for the spill.

“Well, we want to see American proteins held accountable. We want to see American proteins step up and put some robust measures in place to ensure this won’t happen again,” said Nelson Brooke with the Riverkeepers.

Brooke visited the area Friday and says there are hundreds of fish dead in the river.

“It’s nasty. They’re rotting, decomposing, it stinks,” he said.

Brooke says the deaths of the fish will damage the ecosystem in the area for some time. Mulberry Fork flows under I-65, near American Proteins plant, close to Hanceville. The body of water affected by the spill is off the main road, but sometimes trafficked by fishers and kayakers.

Fifteen miles away, people at the Top Hat Barbecue were talking about the spill.

“I would be incredibly concerned if I were going to the river this weekend, knowing the chemicals had been spilled in there,” said Bryan Knox.

ADEM has not released a lot of details about the spill, including when it happened or how far down the river the acid traveled. Brooke says he would recommend caution in that area until the investigation reveals more.

“I certainly had concern when I was out there today, not knowing exactly when the spill happened, knowing such a large amount was spilled. I took care to not expose myself to the river,” he said.

CBS 42 News reached out to American Proteins several times Friday for comment. We were told no one in administration was there to answer our questions Friday afternoon.

ADEM advises that all recreational activities in the Mulberry Fork stop until more information is available.

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