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Jim Beam fined over massive bourbon spill that killed off fish

Click to play video 'Scores of fish dead after fire at Jim Beam bourbon warehouse' Scores of fish dead after fire at Jim Beam bourbon warehouse
WATCH ABOVE: Scores of fish dead after fire at Jim Beam bourbon warehouse – Jul 8, 2019

Jim Beam is facing hefty environmental fines over a huge bourbon spill that resulted in scores of fish deaths last summer.

On July 3, lightning struck the company’s warehouse in Woodford County, Ky., causing a fire that resulted in the collapse of roughly 40,000 barrels of bourbon, according to an order from state environmental officials obtained by broadcaster WDRB.

READ MORE: Scores of fish dead in aftermath of Jim Beam bourbon warehouse fire

The document, dated Dec. 9, says the amount of alcohol that escaped into the ground is unknown but a “fish kill” was investigated along 62 river miles — or nearly 100 km — of Glenn’s Creek and the Kentucky River.

Bourbon mixes with water in the Kentucky River, Wednesday, July 3, 2019, following an overnight fire at a Jim Beam distillery in Woodford County, Ky.
Bourbon mixes with water in the Kentucky River, Wednesday, July 3, 2019, following an overnight fire at a Jim Beam distillery in Woodford County, Ky. (Pat McDonogh/Courier Journal via AP)

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet brought five violations against the company — including for polluting waters — and levied a fine of US$600,000 plus an additional US$112,000 to reimburse costs of the response.

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The document states that the company neither denies nor admits to the offences, but agrees to the order as a means to resolve the violations.

In a Wednesday, July 3, 2019 file photo, flames and smoke rise from a bourbon warehouse fire at a Jim Beam distillery in Woodford County, Ky.
In a Wednesday, July 3, 2019 file photo, flames and smoke rise from a bourbon warehouse fire at a Jim Beam distillery in Woodford County, Ky. (Pat McDonogh/Courier Journal via AP, File)

In a statement to the Louisville Courier Journal on Friday, Beam Suntory, the company that owns the Jim Beam brand, said it has made efforts to ameliorate the damage.

“While we were able to minimize impacts to the surrounding environment and wildlife — including by deploying aerators in nearby creeks and the Kentucky River, fire suppression and containment strategies to minimize runoff and ongoing water sampling and water field screening — we recognize the regrettable and unavoidable impacts of the incident and have been committed to doing what we can to restore the environment,” the statement said.

“That includes making payments to the state to compensate for time spent, resources utilized and costs to supplement the local fish population.”

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Click to play video 'Massive fire burns down Jim Beam facility in Kentucky' Massive fire burns down Jim Beam facility in Kentucky
Massive fire burns down Jim Beam facility in Kentucky – Jul 3, 2019