On Tuesday, September 10, the Office of Response and Restoration Emergency Response Division provided support to the Hawaii Department of Health in response to a large molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii. The Matson Shipping Company reported losing approximately 1,400 tons of molasses the evening of Sunday, September 8.
On Monday and Tuesday an extensive subsurface brown plume was observed extending from the Matson Pier on the Sand Island side of Honolulu Harbor westward into Ke’ehi Lagoon almost to the Reef Runway. Fish and other marine life have been found dead in the affected area, and fish have been observed gasping for air.
The State of Hawaii Department of Health Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office (HEER) is currently the lead response agency for this incident.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 13, 2013: The plume of molasses is likely to persist and cause a localized reduction in water quality. OR&R’s Emergency Response Division recommended monitoring of dissolved oxygen levels and other water quality parameters.
NOAA is sending a Scientific Support Coordinator to Honolulu to advise the response team on reducing impacts to marine organisms and other natural resources.
This post was developed by the lead NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator for this incident, Ruth Yender. Elizabeth Miles, who contributed all but the top photograph, lives on a sailboat in Ke’ehi Lagoon and has been taking photos since the spill occurred.