NAC reaches settlement with State on fish kill

From Staff Reports

   The State of Tennessee and North American Corporation (NAC) have reached a settlement in principle regarding a major fish kill last year on the Watauga River in Elizabethton. The announcement was made at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission meeting in Nashville on Dec. 6.
   A catastrophic industrial fire destroyed the North American facility in Elizabethton on Feb. 25, 2000. Runoff from the fire-fighting effort entered the Watauga River and touched off a fish kill that destroyed 10 miles of one of the South's premier trophy trout fisheries, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
   Under terms of the agreement, NAC will contribute $100,000 toward fisheries restoration. It will also commit to sponsoring Watauga River related activities for five years, including river cleanup projects, conservation education programs and promotion of the Watauga River as a premier trout fishing and water recreation resource.
   "We thank North American for their commitment to Tennessee citizens, and their dedication to bringing a thriving sport fishery back to the Watauga River," said Justin Wilson, deputy to Gov. Don Sundquist.
   Since 1985, North American has engaged in an extensive environmental program to improve the quality of the Watauga River, according to Charles K. Green, North American President and CEO.
   "From 1985 to 1995, North American invested $20 million in innovative treatment technology. In 1990, North American developed and sponsored a river cleanup program that is a national model. No one regrets deterioration to the quality of the Watauga River more so than North American and its employees; we are committed to a fully restored trout fishery," Green said.
   As part of the settlement, TWRA agreed to establish a Lower Watauga River Watershed project, totaling $85,000, for riparian conservation, aquatic habitat enhancement and water quality improvement projects. Such projects, on the Watauga and its tributaries, are to be a partnership with state, federal and non-governmental conservation groups.