Clues about leaking molasses were in the water months before the massive spill.
Internal emails made public paint a picture of how State Harbor officials worried the department could held partly responsible for what happened.
In an email between deputy director Jadine Irasaki and Randal Leong from the environmental engineering branch, Leong wrote that during a storm drain outfall inspection in 2012, the molasses riser at Pier 51 was dripping molasses.
Matson Shipping Lines was notified of the problem.
Following an inspection in May of this year, there was another entry.
“Personnel …noted no repairs were made to the molasses riser and took pictures of it," wrote Leong.
But then Leong admits to the department dropping the ball.
"Unfortunately we never got around to informing Matson of their non-response," wrote Leong.
Lawmakers who plan to hold a special hearing to get to the bottom of the environmental disaster are interested in finding out more.
What did the department know about the problem pipeline, and when did it know it?
"That is the question we are going to ask we need to know how the response was handled properly, and if it wasn't the department needs to explain itself, if that was the case,” said Lee.
The emails also show how the harbors department was in the throes of determining if it was liable for repairs to the pipe since the DOT may have repaired a molasses hatch cover in the previous year.
They are critical pieces of a puzzle that lawmakers hope to unravel once reports are finalized and released to the public.
“I think it’s important that we look at all the data that’s come in from the federal investigation, from our ongoing conversations with the departments here, and to figure out what was the lapse was, what happened and how we need to close that loophole." said Lee.