When all is said and done about the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor, who will pay for the restoration of damaged coral?
Since molasses is not considered a toxic substance, like oil, the spill represents a unique challenge as far as restoring the harbor and its surrounding waters to its previous condition.
Dr. Bob Richmond of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory determined early on that the 233,000 gallons of molasses is having a devastating impact on the coral.
"Inside the harbor is where we see a lot of mortality, but even coming out of the harbor, turning to the west, you can see the influence of the plume extending. And there's more corals bleaching, shedding tissue and dying outside," said Richmond.
However, the overall extent of the damage caused is not yet known.
Here's an aerial photo of Keehi Lagoon at the Sand Island Boat Ramp on Sept. 11 at around 5 p.m.
Equally as murky is who will pay for any possible restoration of coral once damage assessments are finalized.
"It's in a gray area in terms of federal law. So we're not quite sure," said Michael Fry of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "The state is certainly interested in preserving and protecting their resources, but we're in limbo in terms of knowing exactly where we're going."
Matson has taken responsibility for the molasses spill and the company continues to work with the state health department as far as the response goes, but there's been no determination about setting side funds for the replenishment of coral.