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Fish Hatchery Facing Possible Lawsuit

A local fish hatchery may be in some hot water.
BELLEFONTE, CENTRE COUNTY - A local fish hatchery may be in some hot water.

The Bellefonte Fish Hatchery in Centre County was given notice today of a lawsuit that could be filed against them.

A Washington D.C. based environmental protection group says the Bellefonte Fish Hatchery is violating some of their state permits and are polluting local waters.

Attorneys for PennEnvironment and the Environmental Integrity Project filed the Notice of Intent to Sue Thursday morning.

They say the Bellefonte Hatchery is discharging nitrogen and other pollutants into Spring Creek, which flows into the Susquehanna River, and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay.

Nitrogen helps start the growth of algae and reduces oxygen levels in water that is needed to support fish and other aquatic life.

The group also alleges the hatchery's actions are in violation of the State Department of Environmental Protection agency's Clean Water Act.

Attorney Julie Kaplan, with the Environmental Protection Project, says besides the pollution, the hatchery is also exceeding its permit limit for biochemical oxygen demand and is operating under an expired pollution permit.

"This is a state agency and you would have the same expectation you would have in any entity that has a permit," Kaplan said. "We understand that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission does have a decent reputation when it comes to caring and being concerned about the environment, so I guess i could say that I'm optimistic they will be interested in talking to us."

The state Fish and Boat Commission sent out a statement today saying, "We have just become aware of the filing and need time to thoroughly review and analyze the document. We have no additional comments at this time."

The Fish and Boat Commission has 60 days from Thursday to respond. If they don't, a formal lawsuit will be filed.

We'll continue following this story.
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