Jim Beam to face fines after fire leads to environmental problems

WKYT SkyFirst aerial video of the Jim Beam warehouse fire in Woodford County (Photo: WKYT)
WKYT SkyFirst aerial video of the Jim Beam warehouse fire in Woodford County (Photo: WKYT)(WKYT)
Published: Jul. 10, 2019 at 5:18 PM EDT
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Jim Beam will be fined following the July 2 fire at their warehouse in Woodford County that contaminated a nearby creek creating a “severe” fish kill in sections of the Kentucky River.

John Mura with Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet confirmed the fine with WKYT’s Nick Oliver Wednesday morning.

“There is a penalty and we will be assessing the whole incident and I am sure we will be issuing a notice of violation,” said Mura.

Mura says the bourbon company may also face fines from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife but both will be negotiated by a representative from the company and state official. The cost of each fine was not known as of Wednesday.

The cabinet says a lightning strike led to the days-long fire. Crews battled the blaze until the following weekend when a commercial firefighting group contained the controlled burn relieving local responders – many of which had been on scene day-in and day-out.

Environmentalists say the plume of runoff from the fire spent days floating down the Kentucky River but has since dispersed as it entered into the much larger mouth of the Ohio River. As of Wednesday, it is believed to be passing the Louisville area but no reports of sightings or environmental problems have been reported. Oxygen levels have returned to normal standards within the Kentucky River.

Some residents in Franklin County have reported a taste in the drinking water however officials say the water is safe to drink.

With many distilleries and bourbon warehouses in Kentucky, the department says they are beginning to identify where all of the warehouses are and begin looking at ways the cabinet can potentially assist the industry in keeping the product out of the waters of Kentucky.