CLOVERDALE, Va. – Investigators trying to figure out how 165 gallons of Termix leaked into Tinker Creek Saturday now say it may be a case of vandalism.
So far, the number of dead fish is at least in the tens of thousands due to the herbicide additive that leaked into the creek.
It came from Crop Production Services in Cloverdale.
"We don't know if somebody came by and punctured the tank or somebody was mowing the grass and a rock flew up and hit the tank or whatever," Botetourt County Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle said.
Sprinkle says deputies were called in Monday to investigate the cause of the chemical spill.
"There was no evidence of any type of projectile inside the container that would lead us to believe on what might have punctured the container at this point," Sprinkle said.
When they discovered the leak, they also found a hole in the fence.
"We’re not sure when. It could've been two weeks ago, it could've been in the event," Kyle Springs, Crop Production Services' eastern U.S. environment health and safety manager, said.
Crop Production Services representatives tell WSLS 10 the Termix leaked into a ditch, which filled up when it rained.
"There’s a dry creek across the street from our property and with rain, of course, it's not a dry creek so that took it to Tinker Creek," Springs said.
Now the company's working with the Department of Environmental Quality to make sure the issue is resolved.
"Trying to assess what else we can do to try to improve the health of the stream immediately. Their initial reaction was can you get out there and can you remove the fish? So we have had crews working since Monday afternoon to remove fish," Springs said.
Though the product was stored legally, the company is not taking any chances.
"We’ve already put measures in place. We've moved every container that has any amount of product in it indoors. Our building is diked and contained. And we will make a commitment that we will not have anything outside that has product in it," Springs said.
They have a message to people in the community:
"We’re going to do everything in our power to make it right," Springs said.
WSLS 10 spoke Wednesday with a representative from the DEQ, who says this is one of the biggest fish kills ever in Virginia.
They're waiting for the results of water quality tests to determine the next steps.