Bourbon spill from fire making way to Ohio River

Courtesy: Thomas Lee Rigsby Jr.

VERSAILLES, Ky. (AP/WTVQ) – Bourbon that leaked from a fire that destroyed a Jim Beam barrel warehouse in Kentucky is making its way to the Ohio River.

State environmental officials say they’re assessing wildlife impacts and doing fish kill counts along the waterways near the Woodford County facility.

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The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says in a release on social media that an “alcohol plume” from the bourbon runoff in the Kentucky River is approximately 23 miles (37 kilometers) long.

The cabinet says the bourbon should dissipate very quickly once it reaches the much larger body of water.

Officials estimate about 45,000 barrels of bourbon were destroyed in the fire that started Tuesday. It was extinguished over the weekend.


The communication director for the Energy and Environment Cabinet says at some points where the plume has been the worst, oxygen levels have been at zero and it’s killing fish.

He adds that once the worst has passed, the oxygen levels rebound quickly.

Crews are watching the fish kill closely and it’s also paying attention to the water quality.

The Kentucky River is a source of water for many and some people near Frankfort have reported their water has a slight odor or tastes a little different.

The communication director assures people the tap water is healthy and should clear up soon.

“We’re watching this alcohol slug, plume as it moves down river to make sure drinking water plants are property prepared to deal with it and we think they are,” said John Mura, communication director.

Mura says most of the problems are by Lock 1 in Carrollton, KY.

The cabinet is still recording the amount of fish kill and should have results in the next couple of weeks.