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Turtle Creek not stocking after gas leak

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

A problem that developed last fall is going to keep anglers from trout fishing on a stream along the Allegheny-Westmoreland county line this spring.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission canceled plans to stock Turtle Creek with trout this year because of the lingering effects of a gasoline line leak that occurred Nov. 8 in Murrysville.

A gasoline line at Sunoco Logistics ruptured. It was repaired, but not before gas had leaked into the stream.

To date, some of that gas — which was absorbed by the soil — continues to impact water quality and make the stream unsuitable for fish.

"There is still material getting into the stream, and it's present in the substrate, too," said Rick Lorson, Area 8 fisheries manager for the Fish and Boat Commission, based in Somerset.

The commission had planned to stock thousands of rainbows and browns into a 3.9-mile section of the stream — between Saunders Station Bridge and the mouth of Brush Creek — on two occasions April 14 and again the week of April 27. It's considered an urban water, which means it gets stocked at the highest rate possible.

Emil Svetahor, manager of the commission's southwest region office, said officials have been looking at and testing the stream for weeks in an attempt to determine whether it could sustain fish. The answer proved to be no, he said.

That's going to hurt local fishing, said Ron Bachy of Pitcairn-Monroeville Sportsmen's Club, whose members have routinely helped stock the stream and done cleanups along its banks.

"It's nice because it's close," Bachy said. "It was one of those streams where you could throw your rods in the car and head over there before work to fish for a little while."

The trout that were to be stocked in Turtle Creek will be put back into the statewide pool, Lorson said.

"They won't be shifted to any other water in particular. They'll get used wherever there's a need," he said.

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