Jim Beam warehouse fire to likely have 'serious impact' on Kentucky River aquatic life
State leaders are saying the Jim Beam bourbon warehouse fires are likely to have a "serious impact" on Kentucky River aquatic life.
John Mura with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says state crews responded to the scene of the warehouse fire on McCracken Pike in Woodford County soon after the fire started, and they will likely remain on site for several days.
Mura says the state is coordinating containment efforts with the company in order to limit the environmental impact. A contractor has built a containment wall, but runoff has already entered Glenns Creek and the nearby Kentucky River.
The state is advising firefighters to stop using water to extinguish the flames, as it is the water from firehoses that is the source of runoff into the creek and river. It has instead asked crews to let the fire burn itself out.
Mura says he anticipates a "serious impact" on aquatic life as a result of the fire. There is no impact yet, but it normally takes 24 hours before the effects of the runoff start showing up.
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet is also monitoring potential impacts on the water supply. There is no concern at this time, but state leaders have asked the Frankfort Plant Board to prepare for the possibility of contamination.
The plant board is letting the public know the water is safe to drink, even though some with an acute smell may detect a sweet or bourbon odor in the water.
“Our priority every day is to ensure public safety and public health,” said FPB Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Julie Roney. “We routinely monitor and sample both the treatment plant and distribution system, with the goal to meet and exceed water standards and to protect our customers.”
The Kentucky River is a water source for many central Kentucky communities including Frankfort, Versailles and Lawrenceburg.
Recreational river users are also being cautioned, as the runoff will lead to water discoloration, foaming and an odor. The river is not being restricted to recreational users at this time.