Molasses Spill Threatens Hawaii Marine Life

Jennifer Deutschmann - Author
By

Sep. 12 2013, Updated 9:16 a.m. ET

A molasses spill is threatening Hawaii marine life. Monday’s spill is already blamed for killing hundreds of fish.

Thousands of fish and plants are at risk. The Department of Health is closely monitoring the situation.

As reported by ABC News, the spill occurred in a Honolulu harbor. The molasses was being loaded onto ships from storage tanks.

One of the pipelines broke during the loading process. More than 200,000 gallons of molasses spilled into the harbor.

The broken pipe was repaired by the Matson Navigation shipping company. However, they may be charged with violating the Clean Water Act.

Honolulu’s Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo says the current priority is public safety.

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Residents are cautioned to stay out of the water until the molasses spill, and the dead fish, have been cleared. Officials are concerned that the dead fish will attract barracuda, eels, and sharks.

It could take weeks to clean up the mess. Unlike oil, molasses cannot be collected and removed from the water. It will eventually dissolve. However, it is a slow process.

As reported by NBC News, the tide is carrying the molasses into the Keehi Lagoon. It will eventually wash out to sea and dissolve.

Underwater footage revealed dead crabs, eels, and fish, lining the ocean floor. The dead marine life is being collected and preserved on ice. Officials with the Department of Health are recording the deaths and collecting samples.

Okubo explains that the molasses has contaminated the water, making it impossible for fish to breathe. The marine life is literally suffocating to death.

Matson has reportedly ceased their molasses production as they conduct an internal investigation.

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Matson processes sugar collected from the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company. The molasses is transported to California once a week by ship.

The molasses spill was a tragic accident. However, Matson is reviewing their pipelines and their procedures.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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