Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wolf River Harbor: What's That Smell?

Posted on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The strange, smelly substance that darkened the Wolf River Harbor recently was apparently not an oil slick.

The unpleasant change in the harbor north of downtown was noticed by kayaker Elmore Holmes and others who use the waterway and the Mississippi River for recreation.

"Whatever happened happened a while before I noticed it," Holmes said. "Basically, the water is just black at the north end of the harbor."

He said it looked like an oil slick but smelled more like raw sewage. Last weekend, Holmes noticed a "bathtub ring" along the shoreline after the water level dropped. It appeared to contain a grain-like material.

"I then remembered a boater friend telling me a month or so ago that he saw workers at the Bunge plant dumping large quantities of a grain-like substance in the harbor," Holmes wrote in an e-mail to city officials and river users.

"I'm not sure how such a thing would turn the water black, but too much of anything can be harmful to a body of water," said Holmes, a woodworker who frequently uses the river for kayaking and canoeing.

Bunge Corp., located on North Second Street, is one of the commercial users of the harbor that is shared by barges and pleasure boats launched from Mud Island. The residential area of Mud Island backs up to the harbor, which has been littered with trash from storm sewer runoff. At low water, trash, odors, and pollutants are especially apparent.

Read the rest of John Branston's story here.


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