This week Matson Inc, spilled 223,000 gallons of molasses into waters near Honolulu’s Sand Island as the syrupy liquid was being transferred onto a container ship. According to the state Health Department and Hawaii News Now, the fish kill is far worse than originally expected. Divers have reported witnessing a dead zone at the bottom of the ocean where thousands of fish, eels, and crabs have been suffocated.
The Matson pipe rupture occurred three miles away from Pier 52 in Honolulu, wiping out the ocean habitat around La Mariana. Due to its incredible viscosity and density, molasses sinks to the bottom of the sea and denies marine life the oxygen necessary for survival. Observers have seen an incredible amount of devastation both in and out of the water, and crews are raking dead animals from the shore and removing them from the area. While the molasses is not a direct threat to human well-being, the Health Department is advising people to stay away from the site so as to avoid bacterial or algal contamination associated with the disaster.
“This is the worst environmental damage to sea life that I have come across, and its fair to say this is a biggie, if not the biggest that we’ve had to confront in the state of Hawaii,” said Gary Gill, deputy director for the Environmental Health Division of the Health Department to Hawaii News Now.
Since the spill occurred in the harbor, weak wave circulation could keep the molasses in the region for months. Biologists say that the effects of the accident could be felt for years as the liquid moves its way to outlying areas. Matson may be fined up to $25,000 a day for their blunder.
Images via Flickr user prenido2.