Buckeye Brook Coalition: Glycol killed vegetation, might have hurt run


The glycol used to de-ice airplanes this winter could have affected the herring run through Buckeye Brook, says Steve Insana, president of the Buckeye Brook Coalition.

Insana, who has paid close attention to the brook for years, said that although the number of herring that come in and out differs each year, the visible decrease in the fish this year could be due to the lack of vegetation in the brook. Each year, herring return to Warwick Pond via Buckeye Brook to spawn. The herring run is one of the largest runs in the state. The run at the Gilbert Stuart birthplace, the top run, uses a fish ladder to help the herring along the stream.

.This year.s run is going pretty good,. said Insana. .It.s nothing like what I.ve seen in past years, but it.s doing okay. It.s been up and down. Of course, from year to year there is a difference..

Insana did say, however, that the glycol .definitely did have an effect on the vegetation in the brook. and that could lead to fewer herring. In laymen.s terms, the herring return to the same ponds in which they were born. A built-in honing device leads the fish back to the pond from as far south as Florida and as far north as Nova Scotia. According to Insana, the vegetation plays a role in helping the herring find their way back. If there is a lack in the vegetation, then there could quite possibly be a decrease in the number of herring, he says.

In April, Save the Bay and the Conservation Law Federation filed a 60-day intent to sue notice with the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. The complaint falls under the Federal Clean Water Act, an act that requires plaintiffs to give defendants 60 days to respond to the complaint before official legal action is taken. This notice found cause to sue based on glycol found in portions of the brook by the airport after neighbors complained about a distasteful smell in the air. Glycol is a chemical used to de-ice planes.

According to John Torgan of Save the Bay, RIAC has used illegal drains since 1992. He said the airport feels that they have not done anything wrong, as all of the discharge went into all of their drainage pipes. However, according to Torgan, about 11 or 12 pipes have been added since their most recent permit in 1993.

In a press release issued on April 15, Torgan said, .CLF and Save The Bay are united in our concern about this critical resource. We will not stand by and witness its chronic abuse and neglect. We want to send a strong message to the Airport Corporation and the agencies that this situation has gone on too long and we need to correct it now..

Torgan said Tuesday that they are not looking for monetary remedies at this time, but instead wish to see RIAC clean up its act and take the proper steps necessary to ensure this does not happen again.

.What typically happens,. said Torgan, .is they respond either formally in writing or set up a meeting and attempt to settle outside of court..

So far, RIAC has rescheduled a meeting twice. Patti Goldstein of the public affairs office for RIAC said that, due to scheduling problems with all involved parties, the meetings had to be cancelled.

.We are working on rescheduling that meeting,. she said. .There is a good effort in place to try and get the parties together..

Since this year is the first season the coalition has attempted to count the fish in the stream, Insana said it would be hard to determine if the drainage did affect the run.