Molasses spill could stick around for weeks

Published On: Sep 11 2013 05:55:13 PM HST   Updated On: Sep 11 2013 10:29:30 PM HST

After a steady stream of dead fish and a stench to match, experts now say the nearly three-million-pound molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor could stick around for weeks.

On Wednesday, thousands of dead fish littered the waters where just a day before sea life struggled to stay alive.

"The sea creatures are innocent, and they're dead. It is sad to see," said Honolulu resident Darlene Roberts.

The smell of rotting sea creatures fills the air at Keehi Lagoon.
Hundreds of bloated fish also bob among the boats on top of the dark and murky spill-polluted waters.

"It is just progressively killing off all the sea life right now," said Jessica Hammerstrom, one of the many boaters in the lagoon.

KITV has learned, because of the wind and waves, much of the spill is being pushed into the harbor and nearby lagoon. Experts believe it could take another one or two weeks until the 233,000-gallon spill of molasses breaks up and disappears.

"That's a lot of sugar in the water, and one of the things we're concerned about is an algal bloom or bacteria bloom. That's why we're cautioning people not to consume any of the fish caught in the affected areas," said William Aila, the director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Aila said there's been no sign of blooms yet or increased numbers of sharks coming to feed on the floating fish.

DLNR patrols spent part of Wednesday picking up those floating fish. Officers also dragged nets to see if the aquatic dead zone reached to the ocean bottom.

"We wanted to confirm there weren't more fish there on the bottom, and we did that. So it looks like all the ones on the surface are the extent of the dead fish," said Aila.

Aila added he was alarmed over the wide variety of species killed and worried about the impact the molasses will have on surrounding coral reefs.
Marine experts will conduct tests on the collected fish to determine not only what killed them but also if they contain any harmful toxins from the spill. Others will check on the corals in reefs around Honolulu Harbor.

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


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