Hundreds of dead fish were reportedly found floating in Withrow Creek in Bardstown, Ky. on Friday, just hours after a partial-warehouse collapse caused a large-scale alcohol leak and apparent water contamination.
The warehouse, which is situated on a hillside close to the waterway, is owned by the Barton 1792 Distillery, and houses some 20,000 barrels of aging bourbon and spirits. Roughly 9,000 of these are believed to have been affected by the collapse.
Conflicting reports on the incident have emerged since it was called in to emergency services, with confusion surrounding whether the affected barrels had somehow all miraculously remained intact.
These reports were falsified by the New York Times, who spoke to John Mura from Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet on Friday afternoon.
“There is a stream of bourbon and water running down the hillside that has taken much time to properly and thoroughly assess,” Mura said. He also confirmed that the spill had affected nearby Withrow Creek, but believed its effect to be “minimal.”
This belief was initially backed up by contamination tests carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency. By Saturday morning, however, local news outlets, including the Louisville Courier-Journal, were reporting that the spill had indeed leaked into the creek, killing around 800 fish.
Information released by the State Department reported that alcohol flowed from about 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, before it was finally brought under control by Nelson County Fire & Rescue officials.
The cleanup operation is being handled by Barton Brands, which is owned by Sazerac. The company said it could take days, or even weeks, before a “full assessment” of the damage is completed.
As for what caused the collapse, that, too, remains a mystery.