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Thursday, October 11, 2012

28,613 Dead Fish in the Rocky River (Updated)

Posted By on Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM


Update III: What killed 28,613 fish in the Rocky River awhile back? Investigators finally know: it was cyanide.

No, some Russian mob syndicate didn't have a vendetta against thousands of rainbow trout and small-mouth bass. That would be ridiculous, but cool.

No, this was the careless and lazy work of a couple of septuagenarians: 79-year-old Renato Montorsi and his 74-year-old wife Teresina. They own a metal business on Pearl Rd. They use cyanide at said business. They had a 55-gallon drum that should have been disposed of properly at a waste-processing facility. Instead, the Montorsis poured the cyanide down a storm sewer, which led the cyanide into the Rocky River, which led to a whole stinkin' lot of dead fish. Investigators used an anonymous source, some tips, and good old-fashioned know-how to track down the pair, who are now charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Renato is also facing charges of violating the Clean Water Act, along with being a lazy, boneheaded idiot. (

Update II:: No resolution yet to the cause of the mass fish kill in the Rocky River a few months ago, but Ohio and the EPA are still investigating. The latest non-update update:

"This is a continuing investigation, although EPA investigators from both the Ohio and federal offices have no new information to release," said Michael Tobin of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland. "These types of environmental cases can take quite a while to be resolved. We're leaving no stone unturned."

An Ohio EPA rep told the PD that if there's something fishy (sorry, had to), investigators will keep their lips sealed until they're ready to nab the culprit.


Update: Analysis of the dead fish and the water has yielded nothing in terms of a lead in the fish kill case, according to authorities.

According to Strongsville Patch, the Ohio EPA reported tests results as "inconclusive," though they think a chemical was dumped in the water near Pearl Rd.


The Ohio Division of Wildlife got a call on Sunday from a fisherman who told the agency they should probably come see the flood of fish carcasses in the Rocky River.

When they arrived, they discovered a waterway filled with dead aqua life. The fish kill is still under investigation. Today, the ODW announced the final death toll: 28,613 fish, along with other species.

But the process of counting the dead was merely the first step. The interesting part, in terms of going after whoever was responsible for whatever caused the mass deaths (that's about as specific as we can get right now), comes next.

Via the News-Herald:

“The investigators aren’t going back to the stream today because they believe they have all the data that they need,” said Jamey Graham, spokeswoman for the Wildlife Division’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron. “They are now sorting the fish according to species and we should that information available soon.”

The reason for the separation of the fish by species is so that the Wildlife Division can determine how much to charge in fines and restitution if and when the culprit is identified. The state has assigned a dollar figure for each fish species.

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