EPA to assess molasses spill, fish auction delayed as precaution

Published On: Sep 13 2013 12:44:04 PM HST   Updated On: Sep 13 2013 07:30:11 PM HST

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it is sending two on-scene coordinators to Oahu to assist the State in its response to the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor.  

As the efforts to assess the damage continue, EPA officials noted that common techniques used to clean oil spills, such as floating booms and skimming, are ineffective for a molasses spill. They added despite the technically challenging nature of the spill, methods such as dispersing the water using long tubes that emit oxygen will be considered.

In the meantime, the molasses spill is having an effect on business around the harbor.

The Honolulu fish auction on Pier 38 opened an hour later this morning to accommodate the longer-than-usual process of unloading the catch off the boats.  

On this Friday morning, business was bustling at Pier 38.

It's the usual scene before dawn, but this morning fishermen had to cool their heels and the ahi. That's because they had to wait an extra hour to sell their catch.
"All we're doing is taking it much slower in terms of unloading the boats. Basically making sure that none of the fish is affected in anyway," said Brooks Takenaka, assistant general manager, United Fishing Agency.
The fish sold at the auction is caught in the open ocean, so auction officials said there's no problem of contamination from molasses tainted harbor water.

But fish auction folks are requiring the fisherman use fresh water to rinse the fish before hauling them in for sale.

With a limited number of hoses, there's a wait to wash.         
"When the fish come into the plant, our basic procedure is that we use ozonated water that kills bacteria. We take a lot of precautionary measures," said Takenaka.
So the fish auction began at 6:30 a.m. instead of 5:30am.

Buyers said it wasn't a problem, except for those who have to send fish to the mainland.

That means moving the auction along quicker.      
"What it is, is just tightening up. Sometimes it's just a little bit more slack. Now, everything is going to move along a little more faster," said fish buyer John Hernandez, owner of JFF.
"Normally (the auction) gets to be a fun type of thing, gregarious, people are joking around. So I asked them to be a little more serious about it," said Takenaka.
For those who make their livelihood on the water, they said what's happened at the harbor is heartbreaking.
"It's just a disaster," said Hernandez.
And if that means having to wait a bit longer at the docks, they say better safe than sorry.

The United Fishing Agency said it's later opening time will continue until further notice.

The agency says these changes have no effect on the price of the fish for consumers.


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