ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) — A paper mill in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has agreed to pay nearly $250,000 to settle an investigation of a fish kill in the Escanaba River, state regulators said.

A couple of dead fish are shown along the Escanaba River in Delta County in August 2020. In all, more than a dozen species of fish were killed in the release to a wastewater treatment plant of an organic pollutant, called “black liquor” from a nearby Verso paper mill. | Credit: Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

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A “catastrophic pipe failure” at the Verso Corp. site in Escanaba resulted in a discharge of partially treated wastewater in August 2020, regulators said.

The mill generates a pollutant known as “black liquor,” which typically is burned as an energy source, the Michigan environment department said.

The river was deprived of oxygen, and fish — pike, bass, walleye and others — were killed for three miles. The Escanaba River runs for 52 miles from Marquette County to Lake Michigan.

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Verso, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, will pay $244,000 in civil penalties and natural resource damages, the state said.

An email seeking comment was sent to the company Thursday.

The Escanaba mill has been making paper since 1911.

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