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Matson had no molasses spill response plan

By Oskar Garcia

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:03 p.m. HST, Sep 12, 2013

A senior executive for the shipping company responsible for spilling about 1,400 tons of molasses into Hawaii waters said the company hadn't planned for the possibility of a spill.

Vic Angoco said today that Matson Navigation Co. had planned for spills of oil or other chemicals, but not for the sugary substance.

The state didn't require Matson to plan for the possibility, Hawaii Department of Health Deputy Director Gary Gill and a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.

Angoco said the company regrets what happened.

"We take pride in being good stewards of the land, good stewards of the ocean, and in this case, we didn't live up to our standards," he said. "And we are truly sorry for that, we're truly sorry for that."

More fish have died because of the spill than in any other incident in the area, Gill said.

The fish are dying because the high concentration of molasses is making it difficult for them to breathe, said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

The spill occurred Monday in an industrial area where Matson loads molasses and other goods for shipping.

Three days after the spill, several patches of discolored water were clearly visible from across the harbor where Matson operates, and fish were tougher than usual to see.

John Hernandez, owner of a fish broker across the harbor from Matson, said he believed it would take years for the waters to restore.

"Mother Nature and the earth seems to always have to deal with our (mistakes)," Hernandez said.

Downstream from the spill, workers collected dead fish in nets at a small sailing club, placing them in plastic bags and blue plastic tubs. About a half-mile away, recreational fishers tried their luck despite warnings from state officials to avoid eating fish from the waters.

Angoco said Matson temporarily patched the hole and the pipe stopped leaking Tuesday morning. The company was working on a permanent fix.

He said the leak occurred in a section of pipe that was not normally used. But he declined to say how the molasses got into the section of pipe where it eventually leaked, saying the company was still investigating.

Gill said the molasses seeped through a section that was supposed to have been sealed off, into the abandoned part of the pipe and eventually to the water.

As much as 233,000 gallons of molasses leaked into the harbor. That's equivalent to what would fill about seven rail cars or about one-third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Matson ships molasses from Hawaii to the mainland about once a week. Molasses is made at Hawaii's last sugar plantation, run by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on Maui.

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dlum003 wrote:
WHY do companies continue to transfer high risk liquids near the ocean? Probably the same reason they build nuclear reactor facilities in tsunami-prone coastal areas. Matson should a hefty kick in the rear for this one.
on September 12,2013 | 01:39PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
A kick in the rear yes but a fine no as they would pass that on to us. I think the kick in the rear should be the repeal of the Jones Act....
on September 12,2013 | 01:47PM
Admirable wrote:
livinginhawaii: FYI It sounds like a shore side pipeline. It might be part of the state leased facility at Pier 52. It has nothing to do with the "Jones Act". Your comment does not make sense...
on September 12,2013 | 03:21PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
i think it might be under the pier since so much spilled out before anyone caught what was going on
on September 12,2013 | 05:16PM
sak wrote:
Negligence! How hard can it be to monitor how much is being pumped out of a tank, too how much is being pumped into a tanker, or the other way? When a discrepancy is noted a shut-down and investigation should be initiated, especially at this scale of 1400 Tons.
on September 12,2013 | 02:56PM
localguy wrote:
This ecological disaster could have been avoided if instead of pumping the molasses on to the ship a pump on the ship sucked the molasses. Should the pipe break or leak it would be obvious by seawater coming through the pipes. With no pressure pushing the molasses through the pipe, leakage would have been very minimal. This is how it is done with generator fuel tanks and in other areas to minimize spills and cleanup. Funny how Matson failed to do their due diligence. Now they will pay big time.
on September 12,2013 | 07:06PM
ryan02 wrote:
I am a tree-hugger, so I think this is terrible. However, to answer your question, Matson is a SHIPPING company, which probably explains why they perform this type of operation near the OCEAN. Also, I believe (but I'm not an expert) that nuclear power plants require a lot of water for cooling the system (and then they need to discharge the water afterwards), which is why they build near sources of water.
on September 12,2013 | 03:15PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
There are numerous pipelines running around our shoreline.
on September 12,2013 | 03:41PM
paniolo wrote:
I bet Matson going get spill response plan for everything from now on.
on September 12,2013 | 01:42PM
Truth wrote:
They won't. There was another spill on land forcing employees to move cars.
on September 12,2013 | 03:17PM
localguy wrote:
I hear they are working on a spill plan if a toilet or urinal in the executive wash room leaks.
on September 12,2013 | 07:07PM
dpinsacto wrote:
Unacceptable. Off with there heads.
on September 12,2013 | 01:42PM
volcanohereicome wrote:
The governor should issue an executive order stating that Matson is responsible for all costs for this clean-up, triple the costs in fines, and a freeze on their rates for the next two years so they cannot pass anything on to customers. Not having a plan...that's just plain stupid for a company of this size.
on September 12,2013 | 01:46PM
localguy wrote:
Neil issue this fine? No way. He is too busy kow towing to Matson and other unions. Expect him to say the state will pick up the tab (read taxpayers) and Matson promises to not let it happen again.
on September 12,2013 | 04:33PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
not gonna happen..matson will pay and they will pay in the millions
on September 12,2013 | 05:18PM
Wonderful_World wrote:
All Gary Gill did this week was collect dead marine life...is that all he's planning to do? Good Grief!
on September 12,2013 | 01:47PM
808comp wrote:
Seems like that's all Gill's going to do is let nature takes its course. What a leader.
on September 12,2013 | 02:04PM
Wonderful_World wrote:
No kidding--between our State "Deputy Director" & the Gov, there are no signs of leadership. The Gov probably gets a lot of $$$ from Matson during the campaign season.
on September 12,2013 | 02:11PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
you can't really do anything since it sinks to the bottom
on September 12,2013 | 05:20PM
false wrote:
Would have been nice to hear that he was going to meet with Matson. You know.... talk small kine story.
on September 12,2013 | 02:09PM
tiki886 wrote:
fo wat?
on September 12,2013 | 04:28PM
Sunny wrote:
The oil companies have rigs that can vacuum up the oil that solidifies and sinks to the bottom, I'm sure it can also vacuum the molasses. I can't believe they cannot do anything! They just don't want to be responsible for the cost of clean-up!
on September 12,2013 | 02:16PM
inverse wrote:
100 percent correct. To not even try before further dispersion and WAITING for thousands of more fish to die beyond the harbor is incredibly irresponsible. Like you said the molasses has somewhat the consistency of oil and that is what those vacuum devices were specifically designed for which is to clean up such material
on September 12,2013 | 03:36PM
poidragon wrote:
Inverse, as you should know, oil spills clean up, use sponge like materials that suck up/skim the oil floating on the surface of the water, molasses is not like oil, it does not float on the water but sinks to the bottom, as it has a heavier density than ocean water has. You gonna try and vacuum the ocean floor and suck up the molasses? how do you porpose to separate it from the ocean water or muck on the harbor floor? Do you have a molasses detector to find out what is ocean debris, ocean water or molasses?
on September 12,2013 | 05:51PM
inverse wrote:
Exactly. What is the downside of sucking 'muck' along with the molasses to be removed from the harbor botttom? The vacuum cleaners are designed to collect material and separate it from the seawater and then return the seawater back to the ocean. The best detector is the 'human detector' and it is not hard for a diver in a protective suit to identify areas of sludgy mass totalling 1400 TONS of molasses traveling along the bottom of the harbor floor.
on September 13,2013 | 04:54AM
localguy wrote:
With no spill prevention and cleanup plan, Matson hasn't got a clue what to do. Does not want to spend money on a cleanup so will likely accept the fines, then jack up their shipping rates to make up the difference. Can't have their CEO's pension go down one cent.
on September 12,2013 | 04:35PM
cojef wrote:
You can bet the stockholders are holding their breath, hoping they do not have to pay for the clean-up costs. Wonder what EPA is going to do? Assess some penalties. They usually do.
on September 12,2013 | 04:58PM
localguy wrote:
Can you say "Multimillion dollar fine for willfully failing to comply with EPA regulations? State and Fed will nail Matson to the wall for their fiasco. Made world wide news, Matson looks like a 4th world company. After the BP disaster in the gulf where they had no true spill plan, Matson had a chance to clean up their act. They failed to do so, now stockholders will write the massive check.
on September 12,2013 | 05:51PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Wow, really? You mean you were stalking Gary Gill 24/7 so you know for a fact that all he did was collect dead fish? Dude you need a life.
on September 12,2013 | 03:42PM
Wonderful_World wrote:
Gary--you mean to tell me you counted all of those 2000 fish only today? What attempts have you made to clean this other than just saying that this is a "biggie"?
on September 12,2013 | 04:21PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
they have private contractors that are supposed to take care of oil spills..but as for molasses..it's not easy to clean up since it sinks to the bottom so there's nothing you really can do
on September 12,2013 | 05:20PM
HawaiiBlogger wrote:
I bet Matson figures that they can just pass on to its customers (and ultimately US) the fees they are about to be levied!!! I say no......any fine payment should come directly from the coffers of Matson.....
on September 12,2013 | 01:57PM
juscasting wrote:
on September 12,2013 | 01:59PM
false wrote:
Bagaoong spill? Now that would be interesting. No need hauna and fish probably wouldn't die ( chum for malahinis).
on September 12,2013 | 02:15PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
i think you mean palu.
on September 12,2013 | 11:04PM
Slow wrote:
Matson talking head told us on the first day the spill made the news that they regard themselves as stewards of the environment. And now they can demonstrate stewardship. But that was happy talk. Let's see their action.
on September 12,2013 | 02:00PM
waikane75 wrote:
Why no public statement by the Board of Directors? Come on Mike Chun!
on September 12,2013 | 02:01PM
raspberrygoat wrote:
Vic Angoco said today that Matson Navigation Co. had planned for spills of oil or other chemicals, but not for the sugary substance. Gill says officials believe the best plan is to let currents flush out and dilute the molasses. Does anyone have a plan!!!!
on September 12,2013 | 02:07PM
waikane75 wrote:
The only plan that they seem to have is to scoop up the dead fish. Pathetic!
on September 12,2013 | 02:11PM
inverse wrote:
Even if it does not work exactly as planned you have to try and and then quickly learn to adapt or modify procedures and methods to more efficiently clean up the molasses when compared to crude oil. To just sit there and claim nothing can be done but wait till the molasses spreads across all of the south shore and then wait for thousands of more fish to and wait for fields of coral to be killed is beyond belief. Time is NOW to act, when there is a possibility that proactive intervention can make a difference before the effects of dispersion become more significant over time.
on September 12,2013 | 03:45PM
poidragon wrote:
This is the State of Hawaii we are talking about, they never have a plan, and just wing it! Besides neither the State nor Matson have the proper equipment to deal with an environmental disaster of this type or magnitude; Hawaii's officials have no idea as to how to go about creating a plan of action to clean up the molasses spill or what equipment should be used to even try it................it's not like you can bring in a giant ocean vacuum cleaner and suck up all the fish killing molasses on the bottom of Honolulu harbor or build a large scale oxygenator pump to re-oxygenate the ocean water affected!
on September 12,2013 | 05:44PM
inverse wrote:
What about the vacuum devices used to collect petroleum products from an ocean oil spill that is available in Hawaii
on September 13,2013 | 05:00AM
false wrote:
I'll bet their going to making some campaign donation next year. They don't really care do they? They haven't even made a sufficient statement as of yet.
on September 12,2013 | 02:08PM
Writtenword wrote:
There is a plan to implement using red dirt. It reoxygenates the water and saves the marine life and coral. It is available in Asia. We have plenty red dirt. Let's get busy. Time is wasting.
on September 12,2013 | 02:15PM
solobiker1 wrote:
We all should know that no one is going to do anything about a big business messing up
on September 12,2013 | 02:27PM
poidragon wrote:
1) at what cost to ship it in to the state? 2) what is the effectiveness of this method and is it scientifically proven or not to work? 3) who is gonna foot the cost?
on September 12,2013 | 05:37PM
mayihavesumor wrote:
Remember the outcry when the Port Royal grounded? Let's see if the state has the same "not going stand for it" righteous indignation going after Matson. Keeping in mind that the Navy just defends the country, Matson delivers the BudLite
on September 12,2013 | 02:22PM
kailua_hi wrote:
Matson should park their ships at the mouth of Keehi and use the thrust from the ship's propellers to flush out the lagoon.
on September 12,2013 | 02:25PM
bpet wrote:
I certainly hope that Matson is going to paying a hefty fine and the cost of cleaning up the harbor.
on September 12,2013 | 03:12PM
tutulois wrote:
Nothing new here -- deferred maintenance and shoddy safety management are religions here in Hawaii...Matson will just add to the surcharges and pass all of these costs on to the residents of Hawaii.
on September 12,2013 | 03:35PM
syhud wrote:
Hmmmmmm. But they always seem to have a plan to raise the shipping rates when need to, yeah?
on September 12,2013 | 03:43PM
localguy wrote:
Matson's primary concern is to take care of their CEO, upper management. Any money left over for the workers. Customers? Just a source of money, taking as much as they can. Now they are liable for some very serious fines for willful violations. Matson will try to jack up their charges to make up the fines. Fines should come from shareholders, not customers.
on September 12,2013 | 04:43PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I don't get all the Matson hate. Sometimes things just go wrong. Pipes break. Somebody falls asleep at the switch.

This was not a malicious act. Matson didn't wake up and say, "Hey, let's dump our product on the sea bed."

Cr@p happens. Matson is not evil.

on September 12,2013 | 03:54PM
tiki886 wrote:
It's the anti-business mentality that has been ingrained into simple minds since childhood. It's the reason why it is so hard to do business in Hawaii and a contributing factor to why we have high costs of living.
on September 12,2013 | 04:30PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Maneki_Neko is the voice of reason here.
on September 12,2013 | 04:31PM
poidragon wrote:
Does it really matter, Neko? It happened on Matson's watch, and they did not bother to notify the proper authorities or have a hazmat plan in place for an environmental disaster, as they never thought it was necessary! Malicious act or human operator errer, it does not matter in this case, as the aftermath of this environmental disaster will have significant repercussions for Matson and the State of Hawaii! Sand Islands ocean habitat has been decimated and there is no information available as to how long the 'molasses spill' will linger in the ocean waters or what effects it will have on the aquatic environment! What is currently known, is that it is killing off all the ocean life in the area, effectively causing a widening de-oxygenation zone of the ocean and killing everything through suffocation!
on September 12,2013 | 05:33PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
matson is one of the reasons why the cost of living is so high..all we can do is bend over and get raped over and over again
on September 12,2013 | 05:27PM
syhud wrote:
It's just people can now let out steam on Matson. Primarily because Hawaii's high cost of living is dictated on Matson's shipping fees.
on September 12,2013 | 06:51PM
localguy wrote:
Matson and British Patroleum are in cahoots, both failed to have spill protection plans, in direct violation of EPA regulations. Looks like there could be some very high federal and state environmental fines due to Matson's willful failure to follow EPA regulations. Might even be some prison time for the CEO and senior management whose job it is to see Matson was in full compliance with with all local and federal regulations. Sad to see another company more concerned with CEO pension and profits then compliance with the law. Glad I never used Matson. What a sorry company, losers in charge.
on September 12,2013 | 04:29PM
tiki886 wrote:
You are the only loser for accusing Matson for this accident. Do you think that Matson wants this negative publicity?
on September 12,2013 | 04:58PM
poidragon wrote:
Tiki, you better go back and read the article again, as it seems you missed quite a bit as to whose fault it was that the spill happened and who is at fault! Faulty equipment falls under bad maintenance and lack of oversight and lack of clear regulations should something ever happen, which in this case, did happen on Matson's watch!
on September 12,2013 | 05:24PM
localguy wrote:
Matson management was well aware they were not in compliance. Exactly why they will be charged with a "Willful" violation. No company wants this negative publicity, which is the CEO's responsibility to ensure full compliance. Sad to say Matson's CEO willfully failed to ensure the company was in compliance. No excuses, CEO failed the company, should be fired for willful incompetence. Either you are in charge or you are not. When in charge you are directly responsible for everything your company does or fails to do. Can' t take the heat? Get out of the kitchen. Sad to say a junior enlisted military member in any service knows more about leadership responsibilities than Matson's clueless CEO.
on September 12,2013 | 05:48PM
poidragon wrote:
Hawaii's people don't care 'how sorry you are!' What we care about is what your going to do to prevent something of this magnitude from happening again; because of Matson's carelessness Sand Islands ocean envrionment has been severly compromised and it will take years of nurturing to bring it back to a fraction of what it was! This environmental disaster is on par with a major oil spill in the ocean, but with molasses, you can't use the same techniques to clean up the mess, you have to let the ocean disperse the 'de-oygenating agent' as it sinks to the bottom and coats the ocean foor habitat, killing off 99% of the ocean life there! I hope there is a serious investigation and severe fines for creating this oceanic genocidal wave of death in the Sand Island habitat; this should be classified as an 'environmental emergency!'
on September 12,2013 | 05:20PM
soundofreason wrote:
Imagine my....(yawn) ....surprise. They had no spill response plan because the State didn't REQUIRE that they have one.
on September 12,2013 | 06:40PM
Makapuu4 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on September 12,2013 | 06:43PM
localguy wrote:
No, it is Matson's fault as Hawaii does have a requirement for a spill response plan. Read about it at the link below. Also required with Federal EPA. Matson was well aware of these requirements, decided not applicable to them, would waste too much of CEO's bonus and retirement pay. http://eha-web.doh.hawaii.gov/eha-cma/Leaders/HEER/spill-reporting-and-emergency-response http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/spcc/
on September 12,2013 | 07:39PM
Makapuu4 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on September 12,2013 | 07:43PM
localguy wrote:
Exactly. As any Law Enforcement Officer will always tell you, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Enough said.
on September 12,2013 | 08:52PM
localguy wrote:
Since Matson admitted they knew they were not in compliance with EPA regulations and did nothing about it, state and Federal EPA can go in to Matson and do a 100% inspection of all their ships, facilities and records. It's called "Probable Cause" as now they know Matson most likely lied in other areas of EPA compliance. Matson will be taking it in the shorts for this one. Island residents using a shipping company would do well to not use them. Horizon suddenly looks like a very good choice. No reason to support a company that willfully thumbs their nose at state and federal EPA regulations.
on September 12,2013 | 06:44PM
localguy wrote:
Since Matson admitted they knew they were not in compliance with EPA regulations and did nothing about it, state and Federal EPA can go in to Matson and do a 100% inspection of all their ships, facilities and records. It's called "Probable Cause" as now they know Matson most likely lied in other areas of EPA compliance. Matson will be taking it in the shorts for this one. Island residents using a shipping company would do well to not use them. Horizon suddenly looks like a very good choice. No reason to support a company willfully failing to comply with state and federal EPA regulations.
on September 12,2013 | 06:45PM
rayhawaii wrote:
Plenty companies no response plan. Just figure out what to do if it happens. Watch what you eat in some fast food places, especially if seafood smells like molasses.
on September 12,2013 | 09:26PM
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