Some 300 dead striped bass have been found in Lake Norman since Friday in what a Duke Energy spokesperson described Tuesday as a â€œdie offâ€ event.
Dukeâ€™s Christine Pulley told the Times-News that the power company does see a link between the fish deaths and the companyâ€™s recent activities, which follows a pattern seen on the lake during hot summers.
Normally Dukeâ€™s McGuire Nuclear Plant on the southeastern shore of the lake, takes in water for cooling purposes. Because of very high temperatures on the lake last month, the plant was forced to pump water from much further beneath the surface for five days.
This is known to cause a lower oxygen level in the water, which poses a problem for the striped bass. Oxygen levels are already affected by the higher surface temperatures and the fish may be distressed to start with at this time of year.
When Duke has had to resort to the deep water pumps during previous hot summers, similar fish die-offs have resulted, Pulley said.
She noted that the striped bass are not a natural part of the environment in the waters of the Catawba River around Lake Norman, which was formed by a Duke damming project on the river in the 1960s.
State wildlife officials stock Lake Norman with about 162,000 striped bass annually for the benefit of recreational fishermen.
There was no report of any similar problem for other fish species in the lake.
by Frank Taylor