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Dead zone, blamed on bourbon spill, kills fish

Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2000

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A deadly pool of water that may have been caused by bourbon that spilled into the Kentucky River has literally driven fish to jump out of its path and killed everything that breathes with gills.

The 28-mile-long dead zone slowly made its way down river Tuesday.

State environmental officials believe the kill is related to the fire last week at the Wild Turkey distillery at Lawrenceburg that sent flaming bourbon pouring into the river.

The dead zone did not actually start until well down river and a few days after the spill. Officials speculate that algae fed on the alcohol, sucking the oxygen out of the water.

''That more than anything else is what's killing fish,'' said Pete Pfeiffer of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

Fish were driven into tributaries to find water with enough oxygen to survive.

''They were literally jumping over the dam,'' Pfeiffer said. ''Somebody said there were so many bodies across the mouth of Elkhorn Creek, you could literally walk across it.''

Maleva Chamberlain of the state Division of Water said the water is safe for humans to drink. No communities draw their drinking water from the main stem of the river.



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