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After Jim Beam Fire, a 23-Mile Alcohol Plume

Thousands of fish are dead in Kentucky River
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2019 3:02 AM CDT
Bourbon mixes with water in the Kentucky River, Wednesday, July 3, 2019, following an overnight fire at a Jim Beam distillery in Woodford County, Ky.   (Pat McDonogh/Courier Journal via AP)
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(Newser) – A Jim Beam warehouse is now a pile of rubble, 6 million bottles of bourbon were lost—and thousands of fish are dead. After the warehouse fire in Versailles, Ky., last week, "bourbon-tainted runoff" ended up in nearby waterways, including the Kentucky River, ABC News reports. Despite the efforts of firefighters to avoid dousing the flames with too much water, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says a 23-mile-long alcohol plume ended up in the river. The cabinet posted a photo Sunday of dead fish floating in the river and said that a "fish kill count" is being done; WKYT puts the number in the "thousands."

The warehouse fire is out, and officials are aerating the river "in an attempt to increase the low dissolved oxygen levels in the water," the cabinet says in its post. Water quality and wildlife assessments are also being performed. WKYT notes that some may be able to smell bourbon in the air, and the cabinet warns in its post that "people using the Kentucky River in the area of the plume will likely see and smell dead fish." The state has warned people not to eat affected fish, but drinking water was not expected to be impacted. The plume was expected to reach the Ohio River early Monday, and officials said it would likely "dissipate quickly as it enters the much, much larger body of water," but there could still be some impact to aquatic life at the spot where the two rivers meet. (Read more Kentucky stories.)

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