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Thread: How to poison a river

  1. #1 How to poison a river 
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    I realise that this is a really weird question to be asking, and I'm probably going to be put on some sort of goverment list, but it's not as malicious as it sounds.


    I'm writing a short story for my creative writing degree about a small fishing village, and I want one of the characters to poison the river to kill most the fish population. I've been doing a bit of research but it's kind of a hard question to google. "How would I poison a river?"



    So I figured this is as smart a bunch commenters as any other forum, so I'd ask if any of you guys could shed some light. I don't even know if it's possible, I'm guessing it would have to be applied gradually, due to the water flow. Unless it was something that could be dropped upstream and would dissolve over time.


    It would be a fairly small river, not too near the river mouth and salmon would be the fish being poisoned. As simple a delivery method as possible, It's got to be feasible. It's probably do-able with several tonnes of sulphuric acid, but I don't know anyone with access to that.


    Thanks for the help in advance.


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  3. #2  
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    Cuyahoga River - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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  4. #3  
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    You might find some ideas here: Fish kill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    It is often difficult or impossible to determine whether a potential toxin is the direct cause of a fish kill. For example, hundreds of thousands of fish died after an accidental spill of bourbon whiskey into the Kentucky River near Lawrenceburg. However, officials could not determine whether the fish kill was due to the bourbon directly or to oxygen depletion that resulted when aquatic microbes rapidly began to consume and digest the liquor.[
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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Keep dumping raw sewage into it or fertilizer run offs, as only 2 examples of thousands, and in time that river won't support anything.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    A truckload of cyanide should do the trick?
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    Dimethylmercury. Certain and agonizing death is to be expected.
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  8. #7  
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    Put a paper plant on the banks of the river.
    Seriously, the big question is how to avoid poisoning a river. The chemical we use to chloinate our swimming pools will do a fine job of poisoning a river. You would need tons of it but it is available by the ton.
    For your story you need to solve the logistical question. How is your guy going to manage the poisoning? Can he dump 10 dumptrucks worth of a chemical into it or does he need to sneak over with something he can carry in his pocket? Since the adage is "the solution to pollution is dilution", and a river is by deffiniton going to seriously dilute any poison you put into it, this is a significant issue.
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    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    Rotting dead animals could poison a small river...

    I understand that’s one way you can catch cholera, which is deadly. Thankfully it’s treatable now, so you’re story could need to be a period drama where the good doc would patch you up with a leech!
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  10. #9  
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    Salt, lots of it.

    I remember that, back in the Soviet Union days (almost 30 years ago), an earthen dam holding a large saline pond at a chemical processing plant burst and the salt water flowed into a nearby river, where it killed the fish in the river.

    source

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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples View Post
    Rotting dead animals could poison a small river...

    I understand that’s one way you can catch cholera, which is deadly. Thankfully it’s treatable now, so you’re story could need to be a period drama where the good doc would patch you up with a leech!
    Treatable if you have a source of clean water, since the best bet for many areas is just to wait it out. Since you poisoned the river, though...that might preclude a clean source of water, haha!
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  12. #11  
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    Well.. why not look for actual causes..

    Nature's way of poisoning a river is by salination, (using salt), also, excess fertilizer, from say, a herd of animals taking a crap in it for a long time. It'll clear the oxygen right out of it, by rotting.

    Also, at a moderate fertilizer level, cyanobacteria could excessively grow, and then die, releasing their endotoxine named microcysteine. Which is one of the most potent toxins known to man. It simply shuts down the nervous system (overstimulation).

    A volcanic casm opening under the river, and releasing acid (H2S), carbondioxide, sulfide, or heavy metals in the river..

    natures way of saying, "screw you life"..
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

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