Jim Beam Distillery Fire Causes Massive Fish Die-off as Whiskey Pours into River

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The Jim Beam Distillery in Kentucky went up in flames last week, and with it, 45,000 barrels of whiskey.  The fire was blamed on a lightning strike, but the runoff from the fire has massively contaminated the adjoining Kentucky river.  Tens of thousands of fish have died, and crews on pumping barges are working furiously to help alleviate the pollution.

A July 7 video posted by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources shows a state boat motoring through the greenish-yellow river with hundreds of dead fish floating along the surface.

Dead fish in the Kentucky River.

The fish aren’t dying from alcohol poisoning in the river. They are suffocating.  Sugar from the alcohol created a microbe feeding frenzy, which reduces the oxygen levels in the water and suffocates the fish. The barges are mixing air into the water using pumps, hoping to provide more oxygen to fish, which state workers have recorded acting distressed on the river’s surface gulping air.  All this according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The bourbon is expected to dissipate quickly once it reaches the Ohio River, a much larger body of water, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said.  The distillery fire has been put out.




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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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