Matson could face millions in federal fines after molasses spill

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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources returned to land with a bucket of dead marine life Wednesday.

“You’ve got a baby barracuda, which eats other fish. You have aholehole, which comes out at night,” DLNR Director William Aila said.

The state found at least 10 different types of fish killed from the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor on Monday.

“The impact is across a number of ecosystems,” Aila said.

DLNR will examine these fish to find out what’s causing them to die and determine the extent of the damage.

On Monday, Matson leaked 233,000 gallons of molasses into the water through a broken pipe.

“I’m essentially gathering evidence,” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Michael Fry said.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is also investigating the incident.

Fry has captured at least 400 images of this as the agency builds its case against Matson.

“There are ecological damages that we can recover for and the spiller will be liable for the cost of restoration of the ecosystem, which could be millions of dollars,” Fry said.

Matson is already facing state fines of up to $25,000 a day for violating the Clean Water Act. It will likely be months before the investigations and fines are known.

“But it’s a different smell. But the thing is there’s a huge difference in the color of the water,” boater Patrick Vye said.

The state doesn’t know how long we’ll see the effects of the spill, but it could be months.

“We don’t know what to expect. This is the first time there has been a molasses spill of this quantity in Hawaii,” Aila said.

Matson declined to talk to KHON2 on camera, but a spokesperson said that divers spent the day cementing the pipe that caused the spill.

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