Yellowish foam in Cumberland River raises some concerns - WSMV Channel 4

Yellowish foam in Cumberland River raises some concerns

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A streak of foam floats along the surface of the Cumberland River. A streak of foam floats along the surface of the Cumberland River.
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

If you've noticed something different about the water in the Cumberland River, you're not alone. Several viewers have contacted Channel 4 News recently, worried about what appear to be long stretches of yellow slime floating on the surface.

"It's nasty," said Nashville resident Mike Love.

Vic Scoggin, president of the group Save the Cumberland says whatever it is, it can't be good.

"It could be a number of things. It could be petroleum. It could be things that foam up. It could be sewage discharge. It could be industrial waste," Scoggin said.

Long streaks of the yellowish gunk stretch all the way back to the Old Hickory Dam, where there is plenty of it frothing up. Oddly, there is no trace of it on the other side.

"Once you have these chemicals mixing, then you have a lot of foam. So once it goes through the dam, you have these turbines, you have the mixing action that causes these things," Scoggin said.

Officials at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation say it's most likely "natural foam" made from the dissolved organic carbon from decaying plants.

The foam is created when these compounds mix with air from the churning effects of turbulent water, or in this case the dam.

"I'm not ruling out that, but we can go out here and take water samples and do research and find out what's really in the river. I'm wanting this to be the cleanest river in America," Scoggin said.

TDEC said it sent someone to look into the yellow slime Friday afternoon, and they report that it is, indeed, natural foam.

For more information on natural foam, see this explainer from Metro Water Services: http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/wsmv/Foam.pdf.

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