HONOLULU (AP) — State and federal officials plan to update the public with the latest information on the Honolulu Harbor molasses spill.
Officials from the state Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies will be briefing media Friday.
They plan to discuss water samples, dead fish collected and their monitoring of the spill.
As much as 1,400 tons of molasses leaked in the industrial area from an old pipe owned by Matson Navigation Co., suffocating fish and other marine life as it spread and sank to the ocean floor. The spill happened in an industrial area of Honolulu Harbor west of downtown, where Matson loads molasses and other goods for shipping. The area is about 5 miles west of Waikiki's hotels and beaches, Hawaii's most popular tourist area.
Federal and state officials have been responding since then but have largely relied on natural water currents and weather to dilute and flush the molasses out of the harbor and a nearby lagoon. About 233,000 gallons of the surgary substance spilled — equivalent to what would fill about seven rail cars or about one-third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Matson learned about the spill on Sept. 9 from a neighbor who noticed something in the water, one day after Matson finished pumping molasses to a boat leaving for Oakland, Calif. The company later discovered the molasses oozed out from a section of pipe it thought had been sealed off.
The company and state officials were unprepared, with no contingency plans for what to do in case of a molasses spill. Matson and state officials have said they maintain plans for spills of more hazardous substances like oil or fuel, but not for molasses. Matson has loaded and transported molasses at the harbor for about 30 years.
As of Wednesday, more than 26,000 dead fish, shellfish and other specimens of marine life had been collected from nearby waters, but no endangered species have been identified among them.
Matson says the company will fully pay for cleanup and other costs without passing them on to taxpayers or by raising shipping rates on customers. CEO Matt Cox said earlier this week it was too early to tell how much the cleanup would cost.
Matson ships molasses from Hawaii to the mainland about once a week. Molasses are a made at Hawaii's last sugar plantation, run by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on Maui.
- Nature & Environment
- Disasters & Accidents