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Molasses Spill in Honolulu Harbor Results in Fish Kill

Posted September 11, 2013, 01:43 PM HST Updated September 11, 2013, 03:07 PM HST
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Aerial approach to Kahului Airport. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Aerial approach to Kahului Airport. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

Crews continue efforts today to collect dead fish from waters around Honolulu Harbor and Keʻehi Lagoon on Oʻahu where an estimated 233,000 gallons of molasses is believed to have spilled, officials said.

The state Department of Health issued an advisory on Tuesday saying that, “while molasses is not harmful to the public directly, the substance is polluting the water, causing fish to die, and could lead to an increase in predator species such as sharks, barracuda and eels.”

The spill could also lead to an increase in unusual marine algae growth, and a rise in harmful bacteria that could trigger other environmental impacts, according to information released by the DOH in a press release.

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The DOH is also advising the public not to consume any of the dead fish that may be found in the area, and to stay out of the ocean in areas where the brown plume is present.

Health officials say the dark substance was seen in the water after a Matson ship was loaded with molasses early Monday morning. As much as 1,400 tons of the substance may have entered the harbor from a leak in a pipeline located under Pier 52, officials said.

Crews from Matson located the leak and began work yesterday to patch the line. Water samples were also being collected by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and DOH staff, “to monitor the movement of the plume and judge how long it will take to flush out to sea,” authorities said.

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