Matson had no response to molasses spill, DOH leading effort

Published On: Sep 12 2013 01:55:00 PM HST

Three days after a massive spill of molasses muddied up the waters of Honolulu Harbor the shipping company responsible for the spill says there was no contingency plan for a spill of this nature.

At a press conference near Pier 38 Thursday, Matson Navigation Co. officials admitted that they have a plan in place for a petroleum or chemical spill, but that no course of action was in place or will be taken in response to the 233,000-gallon spill of molasses.

"Do we have a fully developed response plan on molasses? Not to great detail," said Vic Angoco, Senior Vice President of Matson's Pacific Division. "It's not as easy to put booms out there to collect molasses. "

Experts now say the nearly three-million-pound molasses spill could stick around for weeks.

The molasses spill was caused by Matson's faulty pipe under Pier 52 at Honolulu Harbor, which happened around 9 a.m.  Monday.

Angoco said the leak in the pipe has been repaired and will undergo tests before it is used to pump molasses again.

"The line (pipe) is fully charged. The leak occurred in that area that was not in use and we weren'tt aware of it until it came to our attention Monday," Angoco said.

He added that the pipeline is pressurized much like residential plumbing system and that the section that burst is not normally used for molasses.

The Department of Health has confirmed that thousands of dead fish have been recovered as a result of the spill. They will be the lead agency to deal with the sugary mess. 

Members of the Department of Land and Natural Resources are also concerned how the muddied waters will affect the coral and algae populations within the harbor. They are urging people to not consume any of the fish caught in the affected areas.

Over half of Honolulu Harbor is believed to be affected. The murky brown water and stench of dead fish was noticeable across Sand Island facing Honolulu Harbor.

DOH believes that the worst of the spill is over and that is should not affect the entire south shore.

Signs of improvement popped up around the harbor with some live fish seen swimming in the affected area.

Meanwhile, Matson has setup a claims hotline for any businesses that may have suffered as a result of the spill.

"We take pride in being good stewards of the land. Good stewards of the ocean," said Angoco.  "In this case we didn't live up to our standards and we truly sorry for that."


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