Local leaders angry about molasses mess

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To say that the Sierra Club of Hawaii isn’t happy is an understatement.

“This is both shocking and appalling,” Sierra Club Hawaii director Robert Harris said.

The Chair of the House Committee on Environmental Protection is also crying foul.

Representative Chirs Lee, who represents Kailua, is questioning why only now lawmakers are finding out that the pipe that caused a massive molasses spill into Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon was leaking more than a year ago.

“Even more frustrating that they had legislators out just a couple days ago and didn’t say a word about any of this,” said Rep. Lee.

The State Department of Transportation discovered that the same pipe was leaking on two different occasions, but only notified Matson once.

When Matson checked it out, they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.

No other checks were made.

Rep. Lee says says someone should be held accountable.

“It’s absolutely frustrating that matson and DOT sounds like had prior notice there was a leak there was an issue and nothing was done,” said Rep. Lee.

“Plainly the state and Mason have opened themselves up to liability in a way that wasn’t there before,” said Harris.

Harris wouldn’t comment if the Sierra Club is considering litigation but says the damage done to the coral in the harbor will take decades if not centuries to repair.

“The only was to ensure this doesn’t happen again is to hold the people who are responsible for this accountable, and hold them accountable on very severe terms, that way future polluters look at this and say we don’t want to go down that road,” said Harris.

Matson has taken full responsibility for the spill and has pledged to pay for the clean up.

“I think we are working very closely with all parties, Department of transportation, harbors division, matson and we want to get it all straightened out and I have confidence it will all be put together,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said.

“If that means looking into this further in a hearing or a series of hearings and an investigation that needs to happen to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” added Rep. Lee.

Matson says it’s evaluating the entire piping system and will not resume molasses operation until it can do so safely.

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