As kids, we learned not to cry over spilt milk. But crying may be warranted in this case. According to FoxCarolina, the thousands of gallons of milk that have spilled into Cove Creek around Saluda, N.C. has killed unknown numbers of trout and other wildlife.
Early Saturday morning at about 6:50 a.m., the incident map listed a crash at Mile Marker 61 on I-26 heading east. The collision resulted in the closure of the right lane, two miles past Exit 59 or Holbert Cove Road.
A witness on scene sent pictures of an overturned tanker at that incident location.
Landon Davidson with the N.C. Division of Water Resources Regional says the tanker spilled over 6,000 gallons of ran milk into the roadway and into nearby Cove Creek.
He says there is no concern to the public, however, the game warden said the milk flowed into the Green River where trout are being affected by the contamination.
Emergency crews were able to remove about 5 to 600 gallons of milk through a vacuum and a good amount absorbed into the water, Davidson said.
Davidson said once the milk begins to degrade, it removes oxygen from the water which in turn endangers fish and other aquatic life.
The game warden said a good amount of trout were found dead and floating down stream. He said depending on the number of fish that die, they may need to stock the creek, which is costly.
Rick Henderson, who grew up along the Green River said he built a snack shop and just started running a tubing business. At the end of a long summer day, he said he loves to wind down by grilling up some fresh trout.
"There are more trout here than there used to be," Henderson said. "I hope this doesn't kill off all of the native trout."
In all his years, he said he's never seen the river so white. He just stared as the milk ran past his shoreline.
"I just happened to walk right down," Henderson said. "Right at the end of the shoals, I saw three laying there where the white water was."
Henderson snapped pictures of the dead fish and sent them to Sgt. Toby Jenkins with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
"We'll walk this stream and count how many dead fish to get an assessment of how many dead fish we have," Jenkins said.
The Sergeant said the number will likely keep going up for the next day or two as the fish slowly float downstream. He said the milk removes vital oxygen from the river.
"Milk is toxic to fish in large amounts," Jenkins said. "So when you say 'there's no use in crying over spilled milk', there is when it's in large amounts and it pertains to fish."
Jenkins said there have also been other complaints. He said the hot temperatures don't mix well with dead fish and spoiled milk.
"One of the first calls I had a man was smelling something strange in the water and then he noticed it was white," Jenkins added. "So you can smell it."
Those who count on the river for income hope the fish kill won't hurt business. Henderson said a lot of travelers go just for the fresh trout.
"A lot of them come down to fish," Henderson said. "They come down to do a lot of fishing here."