Molasses spill killing fish in Honolulu Harbor

Sept. 11, 2013 at 3:40 PM
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HONOLULU, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- A 1,400-ton molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor is killing scores of fish and environmental officials said there's nothing they can do about it.

The spill occurred Monday morning when molasses in a pipeline owned by the sugar company Matson's malfunctioned as the thick sugary substance was being loaded onto a boat for transport. Because the molasses is heavier than saltwater it is slowly sinking to the ocean floor, KITV, Honolulu, reported Wednesday.

That's causing deep water fish to swim to the surface where marine biologists said there's enough oxygen in the water to breathe. But thousands of fish have already died, officials said. And because the molasses is slowly sinking to the bottom of the ocean there's nothing to be done to clean it up.

"It's not like an oil spill where the oil will rise to the surface and it can be skimmed out mechanically. There's no way that we've identified to reduce the molasses that's already in the water," said Hawaii Department of Health Deputy Director Gary Gill.

Instead, the plan is to let nature take its course and eventually dilute the molasses. Gill said it's unclear what the long-term impact of the spill will be.

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