UPDATE: Rains from Lee cause large mercury release in Hiwassee - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Rains from Lee cause large mercury release in Hiwassee

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BRADLEY COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)-- Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are keeping a close eye on the Hiwassee River, following an abnormal amount of mercury discharged by an Olin Chemical treatment pond.

T-DEC Spokeswoman Tisha Calabrese- Benton says large rainfall amounts from Tropical Storm Lee overwhelmed the pond, which reduces mercury levels released into the river. She says it exceeded its daily, allotted in-take.

Benton says about 50 pounds of mercury was discharged in millions of gallons of water over a four-day period. Typically, she says, around 70 pounds of the chemical are released over the course of a year.

Officials with Olin have submitted a plan for proper treatment, and halted all regularly scheduled water releases at 8:00 a.m. Friday. The facility is currently working to pump the remaining water from ponds and retreat it.

Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency Spokesman Dan Hicks tells Channel 3 TWRA officers are monitoring the portion of the river in Bradley County, and says so far, so good.

"Nothing has materialized as far as wildlife, but we will continue to monitor that," says Hicks.

As a precaution, Benton says all plants downstream were notified and will test water samples, daily.

She says recreational activities will not be affected.

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