Aerial views of the lingering molasses plume

Molasses Spill

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A week after thousands of gallons of molasses spilled into Honolulu Harbor, the plume continues to wipe out marine life and hover close to shore.

As the state determines whether to move from response to recovery mode, KHON2 took an aerial tour that showed we’re not out of the woods just yet.

Initial reports have suggested that the contaminated water may be clearing out. That may be true in Honolulu Harbor, but winds and current continue to push the plume into Keehi Lagoon and water samples show it’s still sucking all the oxygen out.

Kalihi Valley resident Leonard Lovewell and his wife walk Lagoon Drive every morning and this past week they’ve seen it go from a sea life sanctuary to a gloomy morgue.

“This morning, it’s a lot worse than I expected it. Look at the color. It’s root beer,” Lovewell said.

State contracted crews continue to scoop out dead marine life that is floating to the surface — some of the same fish that Lovewell used to feed.

“Every morning we feed the fish and now there’s nothing there. All the fish are gone, they’re dead,” Lovewell said.

The state’s response team believes the molasses will continue to dissipate as the current takes it out to sea.

KHON2 wanted to see exactly where the molasses plume is moving, so Blue Hawaiian Helicopters agreed to take us up to give us the aerial perspective.

As we ascended over Lagoon Drive, we saw the dark cloud of molasses hovering over Keehi Lagoon.

“So, all that black stuff is molasses?” KHON2 asked the pilot.

“You can see the difference. It seems it’s been drifting this way towards the runways,” Blue Hawaiian Helicopter pilot Adam Ifill said.

While some of the molasses is making it out Kalihi channel to the open ocean, a lot of it is still being trapped.

One can clearly see the contrast in watercolor.

“Have you ever seen the water this dark?” KHON2 asked.

“No, it’s never been like this,” Ifill said.

As we flew over the Matson shipyard and the spill site, Ifill said it looks a lot clearer since Monday.

“It was worse in the beginning, absolutely,” Ifill said.

KHON2 also got a good view of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Strike team, the latest to join the state’s clean up efforts.

This will add more resources and another 70 people to assist with the spill.

A spill that took the state and the nation by surprise in just how devastating molasses could be to our marine environment.

“To see this happen in Hawaii, it’s too bad people weren’t aware of it. What can we do, we can’t do anything but wait,” Lovewell said.

Keehi Lagoon remains closed to all swimmers, boaters, and commercial users.

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