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Borough officials: Fish in Columbia stream killed by firefighting foam used in training exercise

COLUMBIA, Lancaster County — The Department of Environmental Protection confirmed is investigating the cause of death for several fish in a creek that runs through a residential neighborhood in Columbia.

Borough officials say the fish were killed by a fire-supressing foam used during training by the Columbia Fire Department near the town’s high school Thursday night.

The foam is supposed to be environmentally friendly, but it its believed the fish were killed because the foam was very highly concentrated, the borough says.

The creek runs along Purples Lane, near North 9th Street.

A representative from the DEP told FOX43 they are aware of the incident have have started an investigation.

Columbia Borough issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

Columbia Borough Code Compliance Department received a complaint this morning concerning foam bubbles and dead fish in the unnamed stream that runs downhill from the Columbia High School and across Purples Lane.  An investigation by the Borough’s Public Works and Code Compliance Departments started at the storm water outfall on the hill directly below the Columbia Borough High School’s sports fieldhouse and proceeded uphill and downhill from that point. 

Foam bubbles were discovered at each outfall and open stream between the High School and the Susquehanna River.  As a precaution, Columbia Borough promptly notified the Columbia Water Company and City of Lancaster Public Works Department of the incident.  The Borough also notified the PA Department of Environmental Protection who subsequently performed an on-site investigation of the incident.

The best information available at this time is that a fire fighting foam training session last evening (9/20/2018) produced leftover foam that was washed into the parking lot storm water grates and flowed into the downhill outfall and stream.

The fish at Purples Lane were likely killed when the accumulating foam blanketed the open water of the stream at the bridge and temporarily cut off the oxygen supply to the area fish.  At this time the issue appears to be resolved.