Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Fish dying on Ky. River

Distillery fire may be the cause

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT. — An eight-mile stretch of contamination, possibly from a distillery fire last week, has caused a massive fish kill on the Kentucky River, an official said Monday.

        A plume of contamination permeated the river from surface to bottom.

        “It's sucking all the oxygen out of the water, and fish are dying,” Mark York, a spokesman for the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, said in an interview. “It's pretty much wiping out everything that's in the river.”

        Mr. York said the contamination apparently was caused by alcohol runoff from a fire that destroyed a warehouse at the Wild Turkey Distillery near Lawrenceburg, upriver from Frankfort.

        The bourbon itself is not toxic, Mr. York said. But something in the water — perhaps bacteria — was fed by the alcohol and depleted the water's oxygen, Mr. York said.

        The plume was “bank to bank and top to bottom. It's not just on the surface,” so it could not be contained with a boom, like an oil spill, Mr. York said.

        A different agency, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, was trying to gauge the extent of the kill.


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