Jim Beam Distillery Fire Kills Fish as Runoff Heads Toward Ohio River

(Credit: Jim Beam)

A massive fire at a Jim Beam warehouse in Woodford County, Kentucky – likely sparked last week by a lightning strike – sent a 23-mile-long alcohol plume into the Kentucky River, killing thousands of fish, according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Beam Suntory, the Chicago-based spirits company that owns Jim Beam, is transitioning from the emergency phase of cleanup to long-term remediation at the plant, with direction from the Energy and Environment’s Superfund branch (Division of Waste Management) and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Emergency Response Team. The Emergency Response Team was on the Kentucky River on Tuesday, monitoring oxygen levels at the trailing edge of the plume, according to the Cabinet’s Facebook page.

The Cabinet said it had finished a physical count of fishkill and would begin “tabulating a final figure.” The plume of alcohol will “fully reach the Ohio River,” according to the Cabinet.

Beam Suntory  brought in an environmental crew to reinforce the warehouse’s surrounding berms and to vacuum up the runoff after the July 3 fire consumed as much of 45,000 barrels of bourbon. The runoff was made up of whiskey, hose water, barrel residue and charred debris, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

The EPA is heading up an investigation to determine how much impact the runoff will have on the local ecosystem, reported WKYT.

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