1,000 fish killed: Bourbon distiller given state violation notice for pollution after warehouse collapse

1,000 fish killed by bourbon from Bardstown distillery accident

BARDSTOWN, KY (WAVE) - A local distillery is going to be issued a violation notice after thousands of bourbon barrels spilled, state officials say the alcohol killed fish in local bodies of water.

According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, roughly 1,000 fish died because of the spill that caused alcohol to contaminate two bodies of water -- Withrow Creek and Beach Fork River. The KECC said Monday, Sazerac, the owner of Barton 1792, will be issued a notice of violation for failure to notify and for polluting the waters of the Commonwealth.

It still may be several days or weeks before a full assessment of the damage to Warehouse 30 at Barton 1792 is fully complete.  Part of the bourbon warehouse in Bardstown collapsed Friday morning, sending thousands of barrels of bourbon spilling out of the building.

According to officials from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, the dead fish appear to be minnow fish and larger game fish. The fish died from the alcohol in the water by ingesting it or because the alcohol depletes oxygen in water, which causes fish to suffocate.

Videos of the dead fish are circulating over social media.

"Everyone is reporting all these dead fish that are popping up," Nelson County resident Cassie Bright said. "Of course we are right on the river so we jump in the ranger and we go down to see."

Dixie Hibbs is a former mayor of Bardstown and is a historian. Hibbs has written books about the areas bourbon heritage. She's curious about how this all happened.

"How did half the building fall and not more of it," Hibbs said. "These buildings in the 1940's were still being put together piece by piece where now we are putting them together in sections."

Hibbs says this isn't the first time alcohol has gotten into area water.

"There is a plum bob they put in warehouses they hang it from the top floors hang it down and they have a piece of metal or pattern on the floor," Hibbs said. "The plum bob has to hang straight down the middle. If it moves either way that means the building is moving. So I have no idea if this was In the warehouse or not. But that is something we still use in warehouses because buildings can move from."

Monday's rain helped in diluting the water.

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