DLNR closes Keehi Lagoon because of molasses spill

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The State Department of Land and Natural Resources announced on Friday that it has closed Keehi Lagoon to commercial and recreational water activities in the wake of Monday’s massive molasses spill.

This will affect some events, like an ILH kayak race that was supposed to be held Saturday morning at Keehi Lagoon.  It’s also affecting some businesses.

Dead marine life continues to wash ashore at Keehi Lagoon, but it’s nothing compared to the past few days.

Professional divers from Trees to Seas and Honu Hawaiian Diving shared with us video of what’s become a marine morgue, filled with the carcasses of mantis shrimp, crab, fish, and eels.

“Everything is dead. All the little creatures that would be eating dead things down there in the sand are all dead, and they’ve come out of the sand and they’re dead,” Liv Wheeler of Trees to Seas said.

This is all because of a leaky Matson pipe, which spilled an estimated 233,000 gallons of molasses on Monday.

The molasses has suffocated the marine life in and around Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon.

When asked if he expected what he saw, Jeremy White of Honu Hawaiian Diving said: “Not at all.  I wouldn’t think molasses would do that.”

The DLNR has posted warning signs at Keehi Lagoon.

“We want to make it clear — we don’t want anyone in the water where the brown water is,” DLNR Director William Aila said.

The closure affects commercial and recreational activities at Keehi Lagoon, which includes fishing and paddling, as well as two jet ski operations.

“We have informed them that Matson has made a claims hotline available so we highly recommend they start the process of filing their claim,” Aila said.

Kalihi Kai Canoe Club still held practice of Friday, taking their chances.

Coach Walter Fox said they need to get ready for Sunday’s long distance race: “From Hawaii Kai to Nanakuli, so yeah, big race this weekend.”

The DLNR doesn’t know how long the closure at Keehi Lagoon will last.  Aila says it’ll be on a day-to-day basis, depending on how quickly the water clears up.

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