Matson could permanently halt molasses shipments following spill

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The massive spill at Honolulu Harbor could mean the end of the company’s molasses shipments in the islands.

Matson is the only company in Hawaii that transports molasses in bulk. Since the spill, it has stopped — and would stay that way if Matson can’t prevent this from happening again.

“We can’t undo this, but we can make it right,” Matson President and CEO Matt Cox said.

For the first time, the head of Matson responded to the molasses spill that happened over a week ago.

“I just want to offer on behalf of every employee at Matson, our sincere apology to the people of Hawaii. We’ve let you down. And we’re very sorry.” Cox said. “We consider ourselves stewards of the land and stewards of the ocean, and we failed in that responsibility last week.”

Matson says the company will cover the cost of this cleanup, and will not increase rates because of it.

Cox talked to lawmakers, who got a first-hand look at the waters behind La Mariana in Honolulu Harbor.

“Has Matson changed any of their current procedures on how to handle this because of the situation?” asked Rep. Ryan Yamane (D), Transportation Committee Chair.

“Well, we’ve stopped pumping molasses,” Matson official Chris Lee said.

There’s no word if and when Matson will continue its molasses operations in Hawaii. It is looking at the pipeline that caused the leak.

“If it’s not repairable, would we put a new line in place. And if that’s not feasible, keep open the possibility of discontinuing our molasses from Honolulu to the mainland,” Cox said.

Although Matson is taking full responsibility of the spill, the Department of Transportation is in charge of the state’s harbors. The DOT is looking to see what procedures need to be in place since it does not have an inspection policy for molasses.

“So, the pipe has never been officially inspected?” KHON2 asked.

“As far as I know, no,” DOT Director Glenn Okimoto said.

“Why wait a week after the event? If it was such a big concern, why didn’t everybody get together the day after it happened, or two days after it happened?” KHON2 asked.

“Well, we wanted to make sure we coordinated everybody’s presence as well as to monitor what was the status,” Rep. Yamane said.

In the coming weeks, lawmakers plan to hold hearings to get more answers and to determine whether new legislation about the issue should be introduced next year.

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