Politics & Government

Another spill at a Kentucky bourbon distillery kills fish in this Frankfort creek

See the before and after of Castle and Key Distillery renovation

See photos of the decrepit state of the Taylor Distillery Company before renovations to become the new Castle & Key Distillery.
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See photos of the decrepit state of the Taylor Distillery Company before renovations to become the new Castle & Key Distillery.

The Castle & Key Distillery southeast of Frankfort discharged an unknown quantity of untreated wastewater Thursday into Glenns Creek, killing an unknown number of fish, state environmental officials said Friday.

The Kentucky Division of Water responded to a report of dead fish and water discoloration in Glenns Creek, which flows into the Kentucky River a short distance to the west, said agency spokesman John Mura.

The bourbon distillery told state investigators that its water treatment system failed, sending untreated, oxygen-depleting waste directly into the creek, Mura said. The discharge was stopped by 4 p.m., about two hours after state officials received a report, he said. Lab results are pending on the affected creek water, he said.

“We did see evidence of a fish kill, so we will be issuing a notice of violation,” Mura said.

Potential penalties could reach $25,000 per violation per day, but the state won’t decide a penalty in the case until it can meet with the company and determine more about what happened, Mura said.

Castle & Key confirmed the incident in a statement issued Friday.

“Yesterday, Castle & Key became aware that our waste treatment facility was discharging water that was not in compliance with agreed upon standards for treatment. Upon learning of the issue, we stopped all discharge from our waste treatment facility, which currently remains isolated and turned off.”

“Because the environment, and specifically water, is critically important to Castle & Key, production activities that cause discharge have been halted and will not resume until all of the root causes have been identified and solutions put in place to prevent any further issues,” the company continued. “We are working with state officials on the matter.”

In July, a massive fire at the nearby Jim Beam bourbon warehouse destroyed barrels of young Jim Beam. The bourbon leaked and traveled first into Glenns Creek, then the Kentucky River and, finally, the Ohio River. Jim Beam likely will face fines from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, state officials have said.

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