Hawaii's Department of Health (DOH) says a spill of molasses from a Matson pipeline has caused a massive fishkill in Honolulu Harbor.
"Matson representatives have informed the DOH that as much as 1,400 tons of molasses, or about 233,000 gallons of the liquid, may have entered the harbor," the Hawaii DOH said. It said Matson located a leak in their molasses pipeline near Pier 52 and patched it.
According to Matson's annual report, five of its ships and two container barges have capacity to carry molasses in amounts ranging from 2,100 short tons-4,300 short tons.
In a televised press conference
on Hawaii News Now, Vic Angoco, senior vice president of the Pacific division for Matson, said "we are going to do our part to take care of what is going on. We're sad — it's unfortunate, the impact. Now we have to focus on minimizing it, reducing it, and trying to prevent any further damage to the environment."
Response crews are collecting fish in the harbor, and DOH also advises the public not to consume any of the dead fish that may be found in the area.
response to the spill, DOH said it was posting warning signs at beaches in the
Keehi Lagoon area and will determine if additional beach closures along
Sand Island or the Ewa coastline is necessary.
Video of the spill showed molasses covering the bottom of the harbor.
"While molasses is not
harmful to the public directly, the substance is polluting the water,
causing fish to die and could lead to an increase in predator species
such as sharks, barracuda and eels," according a DOH press release. "The nutrient-rich liquid could also
cause unusual growth in marine algae, stimulate an increase in harmful
bacteria and trigger other environmental impacts."
Cleaning the mess is difficult. Jeff Hull, a Matson spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times
that unlike oil, which can be skimmed from the surface of water, molasses sinks. - Chris Dupin