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Hundreds of fish died when bourbon leaked into waterways following collapse at distillery

Posted at 12:44 PM, Jun 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 15:44:44-04

The collapse of a warehouse wall at a distillery in Kentucky didn't just send 9,000 bourbon barrels crashing to the ground. The accident last Friday also killed hundreds of fish when bourbon leaked into nearby waterways, state officials said.

Nearly 1,000 fish were found dead in Withrow Creek and the Beach Fork River near the Barton 1792 distillery in Bardstown, according to officials with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

State environmental officials said they will fine Sazerac Inc., parent company of the distillery, up to $25,000 per day after alcohol was discovered to be contaminating the bodies of water.

The state intends to cite the company "for failure to report a release and the pollution of waters," said John Mura, director of communications for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Sazerac has not responded to repeated CNN requests for comment.



The dead fish were mostly minnows, but state inspectors also found smaller numbers of catfish, suckers, darters, gar and small largemouth bass, Mura said. Some nearby residents posted images of dead fish to social media.

Test results from water samples collected by the state in the days following the collapse are still pending.

Asked how state officials know that leaked bourbon caused the fish kill, Mura said, "I think it's pretty obvious why they died."

The warehouse holds up to 20,000 stacked barrels and was having a wall repaired when half the structure collapsed. No injuries were reported.

Typically, each barrel holds 53 gallons of bourbon, according to CNN affiliate WLKY.

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