BRISTOL, Va. - Food City employee Gary Cooper calls himself a real nature lover.
Every day he watches over the wildlife around Little Creek that flows past his receiving dock. "It's like having your own little wildlife refuge outside your door," Cooper said.
But Monday morning he noticed something was definitely wrong. "It was after daylight, mid-morning," Cooper said. "I started seeing some of the ducks, and they were all acting really strange."
Cooper tells us he then called for help. "Upon arrival we did find a significant fish kill," said Alex Sneed with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. "It extended approximately a mile to a mile and a quarter of Little Creek. Along with dead fish, we also did have some impacted water fowl."
About a half mile upstream from Food City is where the problem started. A manhole overflowed, dumping untreated waste water into Little Creek. "It seems to get clogged for some reason, which causes it to overflow," Sneed said. "The manhole's located right on the creek, so the overflow of sewage then is released into the creek."
Sneed tells us containment booms were put in place in the creek to catch the contaminate for now, but he says the bigger issue is the city fixing the manhole clog.
It's a repair that Cooper says came too late to save his wildlife. "It probably took half a day to kill them all," Cooper said. "When will it be back? That's what worries me."
Several of the ducks impacted by the creek sewage were saved Monday. Animal control will be cleaning them up and treating them before they're released back into the wild.