The owner of the paper mill that discharged a black liquid into the Pearl River, apparently responsible for a massive fish kill in the there, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for the chemical release.
“The health of the Pearl River and surrounding communities are our utmost concerns. Temple-Inland has a strong environmental record and we sincerely regret this incident, which is contrary to our culture of good community stewardship as both an employer and a resident of Bogalusa and the State of Louisiana," read a statement by Temple-Inland’s Chairman and CEO Doyle R. Simons.
The paper mill realized on Sautrday that its waste water treatment facility would exceed environmental limits for discharges into the river, and the company shut down the plant and contacted the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, according to the release.
Still, black water filled the river and depleated the oxygen levels, killing thousands of fish. On Tuesday, WGNO first reported that the black water and chemical-smelling foam from the Pearl River had seeped past the Rigolets and was making its way into Lake Pontchartrain.
Tuesday night, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis called for a state of emergency, while Mississippi state officials opened the Ross Barnett Spillway to flush out the Pearl River.
On Wednesday, St. Tammany officials and the governor's office set up a mobile command center and cleanup site at Crawford Landing in Slidell. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the DEQ are also coordinating efforts at that site.
Anyone with questions or concerns is asked to call the St. Tammany Parish public emergency hotline at 985-898-2323.