Reappearance of dead fish worries Ottawa River boaters, swimmers

Boaters and swimmers out on the Ottawa River on the weekend were concerned to learn about a second wave of dead fish found floating in the water east of the capital's core.

The federal government said it's aware of this second wave of dead fish in the Ottawa and Lièvre rivers Friday, less than two weeks after hundreds more were found floating in the water and washing up on shore.

Officials from Quebec's Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs confirmed a team of biologists and technicians didn't see any new deaths over the weekend.

The ministry said the water isn't dangerous for people, but urged them to be cautious when fishing.

Kimberley Molina/CBC

Some on the water questioned whether it was truly safe.

"We're wondering if it's going to happen again. If it's happened twice, then what's going on?" said France-Hélène Martineau, who was out on the river with her husband and young children Sunday.

She said she chose to go further upstream, past the mouth of the Lièvre River so her kids could swim safely.

She wants the government to do more to determine whether the water is safe.

Kimberley Molina/CBC

Alain Schryburt said he didn't seen any new dead fish while he was out on his personal watercraft, but two weeks ago was a different story.

"From here to Montebello, it was like hundreds of fish floating," he said. "We were all pointing 'Another one, another one' nonstop."

Yasmine Mehdi/Radio-Canada

He said he's been using the river for the past 20 years and had never seen so many dead fish.

"Something bad is happening if all those fish are dying."

He said he too feels the Quebec government hasn't provided much information about the safety of the water.

Feds investigating

The federal government said it wants to know whether the cause breaks federal environmental law under the Fisheries Act

Penalties could include written warnings, directions, and charges.

Kimberley Molina/CBC

Some people wondered whether a paper mill or cannabis production plant along the Lièvre River could be to blame.

"We never dump water or liquids into rivers," Hexo said in a French statement about its plant in Masson-Angers, adding that it is confident the situation has nothing to do with its operations.

Calls to White Birch Paper were not returned.