Hawaii: ‘Let Nature Take Its Course’ On Molasses Spill

By September 14, 2013NPR News
John Hernandez of Kailua, Hawaii, who owns John's Fresh Fish, is shown on Thursday. In the background at right is a container ship owned by Matson Navigation Co. A pipe maintained by the company cracked and caused the molasses spill. Eugene Tanner/AP

John Hernandez of Kailua, Hawaii, who owns John’s Fresh Fish, is shown on Thursday. In the background at right is a container ship owned by Matson Navigation Co. A pipe maintained by the company cracked and caused the molasses spill.
Eugene Tanner/AP

State officials in Hawaii say there’s little they can do to clean up a 223,000-gallon molasses spill that has killed thousands of fish, as swimmers, surfers and snorkelers were being warned that the massive die-off could attract sharks.

So many fish have been killed by the 1,400-ton leak from a pipeline, first spotted on Tuesday, that it could result in an increase in predator species such as sharks, barracuda and eels, state health officials warned.

Meanwhile, authorities conceded that there was little they could do to clean up the brown plume that had essentially suffocated thousands of fish in the harbor west of downtown Honolulu.

“Our best advice as of this morning is to let nature take its course,” Gary Gill, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Health, told reporters early Friday at a news conference at the harbor, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reports that a senior executive for Matson Navigation Co., the company that maintained the faulty pipe, said the firm was taking responsibility “but hadn’t planned ahead of time for the possibility of a spill.”

Roger Smith, a dive shop owner and himself a diver for 37 years, told Reuters the spill is unlike anything he’d ever seen.

“Everything that was underwater suffocated,” Smith told the news agency after diving to have a look. “Everything climbed out of its hole and the whole bottom was covered with fish, crabs, lobsters, worms, sea fans — anything that was down there was dead.”

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Hawaii: ‘Let Nature Take Its Course’ On Molasses Spill

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