(01/03/2011)
An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesman is saying hundreds of thousands of dead drum fish have surfaced in a 20-mile section of the Arkansas River.

Some miles away on New Year's Day, several thousand blackbirds (4,000 to 5,000) died and fell from the sky on Beebe, Arkansas.

Investigative teams have gone to both sites.

Some of the drum fish were sick and will be sent to a lab at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff for testing.

Dozens of lawns, streets and rooftops for more than a mile in Beebe, were covered with the corpses of red-winged black birds.

An aerial survey showed that no other dead birds were found outside that area.

Beebe residents said it was something out of the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds."

They spent Saturday and Sunday cleaning up the birds, some of which had been flattened by cars.

State officials have not decided what killed the giant flock or the hundreds of thousands of fish.

NO CONNECTION MADE TO PINE BLUFF ARSENAL

No connection for the death of the fish and birds has been made to the Pine Bluff Arsenal that was established in 1941, a facility that experimented with microbiological pathogens for potential germ warfare.

The facility once had 900 buildings, some of which began producing lethal biological pathogens in 1953.

The Army's chief microbiologist at the site, William Capers Patrick had perfected the production of anthrax spores that could be dispersed through the air.

The site also produced Agent Orange, widely used in the Vietnam War, its production halted in 1969 by President Nixon following public outcry.

The Army's Chemical and Biological Defense Command maintained 3,850 tons of the nation's chemical agent stockpile of toxic nerve agents at the site.

On November 16, 2010, arsenal officials announced that the last of the chemical agents stored there had been destroyed. Today, the government says the arsenal makes smoke, incendiary, and pyrotechnic devices and tests chemical defense clothing.


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