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EDEN, N.C. — A crew with the N.C. Department of Water Resources spent the day on the Dan River catching fish for testing.

Jeff DeBerardinis says checking wildlife like fish is a priority after the coal ash spill into the Dan River at the beginning of the month.

He and Mark Hale collect fish samples by “electrofishing.”

“You basically electrify a field in front of the boat and fish are basically stunned. They float up and roll over and we’ve got a netter up front that will scoop them up,” explained DeBerardinis.

Some fish are left behind alive. Others are taken to a lab where they’re tested for metals like arsenic, lead and iron, found in coal ash.

They’ll either be processed into filets to test what a human would eat I r tested as an entire fish body like what a bird would eat.

DeBerardinis added, “I’m an angler myself and I know that people want to know what they’re catching and potentially taking home to eat.”

He said these fish are the base line sample.

The crew didn’t see indication of sick fish Tuesday. They said metals in the water could build up in the fish tissue over time.

“We’ll come back to these same sites in another month, six months, and then in a year, to see how things progress.”

He said they hoped to check three more sites this week and possibly sites in Virginia, too, if they can get permission.