Environment
4:46 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Liquor Company Cited by Air Pollution District for Whiskey Odors, Fungus

Louisville’s air pollution regulators say a company that stores whiskey in the city has violated its air permits. The Air Pollution Control District sent the notices of violation to Diageo late last week.

In the citation, the Air Pollution Control District notes 27 complaints about a black mold growing on houses near Diageo’s whiskey warehouse on Millers Lane. The mold is whisky fungus, and APCD spokesman Tom Nord says the district has concluded that it’s scientifically proven that the fungus is caused by ethanol emissions.

“We know what the problem is, we know why it’s happening,” Nord said. “It’s emissions from the warehouse causing this fungus to grow. It’s up to them to come up with a way to stop it, and that’s really what we’re after right now.

The whiskey fungus is also the subject of a class action lawsuit that was filed in May against Diageo, Brown-Forman and Heaven Hill by Louisville lawyer Bill McMurry. McMurry says the lawsuit is still moving forward, but he’s encouraged by the notice of violation issued to Diageo.

“Well it certainly gives our position great credibility when the regulatory authority in this county agrees with the science I’ve been preaching,” he said. “While it is true the Baudoinia fungus spore is ubiquitous in nature, it’s also invisible. It doesn’t bother anyone. It doesn’t cause any kind of nuisance. But when it is hit with ethanol, it is germinated, it comes to life and its living color is a black stain on your house.”

In an emailed statement, Diageo spokeswoman Brook Lawer wrote:

“We are a longstanding member of the community and take these allegations very seriously. We have requested the incident reports related to the APCD notice and will review them closely. As we have stated previously, the appearance of a black substance on some buildings and structures is due to a naturally occurring common mold that is found widely in the environment, including areas not related to whiskey production.”

Another violation addresses odor issues near Diageo's warehouse.

Nord says the Air Pollution Control District is still investigating several other complaints about whiskey fungus near warehouses owned by other companies. He says there’s a possibility Diageo could be fined for the violations, but the district’s first priority is to bring the company into compliance. Diageo has until November 3 to do that.