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Jim Beam might have to pay $700K for bourbon spill

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Posted at 8:02 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 20:03:16-05

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB/LEX 18) — According to WDRB, Kentucky regulators have levied a penalty against Jim Beam Brands Company after a warehouse fire from July caused a bourbon spill that "degraded" the Kentucky River and other waterways.

Jim Beam agreed to a $600,000 fine from a Dec. 6 order. The order was from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and WDRB obtained documents through a public records request.

Jim Beam will also reimburse the state agency $112,000, according to WDRB.

A spokesperson said that this has been one of the largest penalties issued for a bourbon spill.

The Jim Bean agreement is similar to the civil penalty agreed to by Wild Turkey for the spill that happened in 2000.

According to WDRB, Jim Beam did not admit, or deny, to the five violations, one of which included several accusations of causing pollution to Kentucky's water.

The Jim Beam warehouse in Woodford County caught on fire on July 2. Documents from the state show that a lightning strike caused the fire and the structure later collapsed.

This fire also destroyed 40,000 barrels of bourbon.

A Jim Beam spokesperson gave the following statement to WDRB:

"Throughout the process of extinguishing the fire, and managing and remediating impacts to the surrounding environment, we have worked closely and collaboratively with Franklin County Emergency Management, Woodford County EM, Owen and Carroll Counties, the State of Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet and the US Environmental Protection Agency. 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. That includes making payments to the state to compensate for time spent, resources utilized, and costs to supplement the local fish population. We are pleased that the spirit of cooperation we've pursued throughout has extended to an agreement on the payments the company will make. Amidst the challenge and heartbreak of the lightning strike, ensuing fire and resulting impacts, we will always remain grateful for many things: the fact that no one was hurt, the unsurpassed courage of the first responders, the inspiring support of the community, and the natural beauty of Kentucky that we're all committed to protecting."

"When I left my house, I could see the glow from the fire on the horizon halfway across the county," said the Woodford County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler. "I know then that this was big."

According to Chandler, Jim Beam did everything they could during the clean up process to protect first responders and the environment, WDRB reported.