Effects of massive molasses spill continue to grow

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The underwater consequences of the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor continue to kill fish.

KHON2 took an underwater camera into Keehi Harbor Thursday to get a look at the conditions beneath the surface. Fish, crabs, and eels — all lifeless at the murky bottom.

But, it’s also starting to stink. Right after the massive molasses spill, the water had a sweet odor. But not anymore.

“Now, the dead fish smell is taking over. It’s bad,” Honolulu resident Elizabeth Miles said.

With all the dead fish and sea life floating around Keehi Harbor, the water is starting to smell as bad as it looks. And it’s spread up into Kapalama Stream.

“The smell was really bad. I looked over to see what was going on and I saw a lot of fish,” Honolulu resident Maureen Paulo said.

To track the spread of this spill, KHON2 met with oceanographers from the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.

According to oceanographers, when the molasses enters the water, it will simply sink to the bottom and spread out, essentially smothering marine life.

“If we take it and try to stir it up a little bit, you’ll notice the molasses will only stir up very poorly,” said Niklas Schneider with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Brian Powell, a UH professor of oceanography, tracks ocean currents and says they won’t do much to get rid of the molasses since currents are much weaker in a harbor environment.

Plus, molasses is 40 percent heavier than salt water.

“The molasses is worse in a sense. It’s heavy, it’s thick. It goes to the bottom and it sits there,” Powell said.

It will take time, but Powell is counting on ocean tides to do the trick and flush the sticky stuff out.

“Tides will flush the harbor. It’s just a longer process than it is out here,” Powell said.

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