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Leaks were detected twice before massive harbor molasses spill

By Sarah Zoellick

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 04:39 p.m. HST, Sep 20, 2013


State Department of Transportation workers had seen molasses leaking from the faulty pipe underneath Honolulu Harbor's Pier 51 on two occasions prior to last week's spewing of 1,400 tons of sticky liquid that caused the massive kill-off of fish and coral in Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon.

Leaks were spotted in July 2012 and May of this year -- and while Matson Navigation Co. was notified about the 2012 leak there was no such notification in May, DOT deputy director of the Harbor Division Randy Grune said in a news conference today. 

In a letter released today dated July 31, 2012, the state notified Matson that on July 17, 2012, "a steady drip of molasses was observed from a hole at the elbow of the pipeline" under Pier 51B between the 900 and 950 foot markers -- the same pipe that leaked 233,000 gallons of the sugary substance into the harbor.

The leak was seen again by state workers in May, but no letter was sent because of a mishap in communication within DOT, Grune said. 

A Matson crew checked on the pipe twice after receiving the 2012 letter, but did't find a leak,  Vic Angoco, Matson's senior vice president for Pacific operations said. He added that the company contacted the state to make sure it was looking in the right spot.

Grune said the DOT did not disclose that a letter had been sent to Matson about the leaking pipe because he at first thought it might be protected by attorney-client privilege. 

"Please be aware that what was observed may be violations of the Hawaii revised Statutes ... which states that 'no person, including any public body, shall discharge any water pollutant into state waters, or cause of allow any water pollutant to enter state water," the letter states.

The state workers that reported the leaks were inspecting storm water runoff in the harbor and only happened upon the leaky pipe, Grune said. 

Matson reiterated today that it did not have a spill plan in place for molasses because molasses is not a regulated substance.







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iwanaknow wrote:
This is called covering your ---
on September 20,2013 | 02:34PM
atilter wrote:
"C_Y_A" a good acronym/rule to keep close to home to make sure NO ONE can dump on you even in the most seemingly benign of circumstances!!
on September 20,2013 | 03:07PM
Grimbold wrote:
You can not govern with third world people. As the work force is becoming less and less educated and more like third world population these malfeasance and attitude caused failures are happening more and more in Hawaii.
on September 20,2013 | 03:30PM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
Less and less educated. I would rather doubt that comment is correct. Now a comment concerning "common sense" or lack of action might be a little more accurate, but to suggest less educated is a direct indication that your education needs a little education.
on September 20,2013 | 06:10PM
aomohoa wrote:
Maybe just irresponsible or negligence. Has nothing to do with education as Grimbold said.
on September 20,2013 | 09:03PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Poor marine life....
on September 20,2013 | 02:34PM
syhud wrote:
This is getting veeeery interesting. Your move Matson.
on September 20,2013 | 02:45PM
atilter wrote:
check and mate!!
on September 20,2013 | 03:08PM
atilter wrote:
checkmate!
on September 20,2013 | 03:12PM
kentfonoimoana wrote:
Matson can plead ignorance....and be 100% accurate.
on September 20,2013 | 02:52PM
kiragirl wrote:
Yep.
on September 20,2013 | 04:22PM
808comp wrote:
Maybe the DOT could have caught this leak in time if they did what they supposed to do.
on September 20,2013 | 04:32PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
they notified matson last year that there was a leak..
on September 20,2013 | 04:45PM
grantos wrote:
1 year is not enough for 808comp
on September 20,2013 | 04:50PM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
So you're going to blame another entity for the mistake of the perp!? Rediculous!
on September 20,2013 | 06:13PM
aomohoa wrote:
Good point. Miscommunication is no excuse.
on September 20,2013 | 09:04PM
frontman wrote:
Detected twice............that means there should be twice the fine and pay twice the cost of the cleanup.
on September 20,2013 | 05:26PM
Wazdat wrote:
Bust out the FINES and IMPOSE some HARSH PENALTIES for these CROOKS
on September 20,2013 | 06:37PM
hikine wrote:
You mean Matson lied when they said they didn't know about the pipe yet they were notified last year about it and didn't do anything?! How come Matson wasn't fined when the leak was detected in the first place and how come DOT didn't follow up if the leak was fixed? How much bribe was given to DOT to ignore this? There should be a hearing on this unforgivable incident. Matson killed off all sea life at Keehi with their inokea attitude! A year! Wow!
on September 20,2013 | 06:42PM
kailua000 wrote:
.... because of a mishap in communication within DOT, Grune said. ...im sorry, but our tax dollars are paying you well. is this acceptable behavior? miscommunication? how about they just dont care. who from Matson is lining the pockets of the DOT? And anything that is sent out by the State is NOT covered by attorney client privilege. Its the taxpayers business! who do you have working there for goodness sake. a bunch of incompentents?
on September 20,2013 | 07:18PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Still it is private industry that needs to be vigilant, especially one that supposedly provides the very best service to these "magnificent Hawaiian Islands", credit to James "Kimo" Leahey, whom we almost lost a few years back. I am of age to have heard James' father Chuck Leahey broadcast Hawaii Islanders games and UH sports in its infancy, before the fame of Richard Tomey, Bob Wagner and June Junes, however I digress, as usual into Sports, just as Stephen A. Smith, of ESPN digresses frequently into his Love Doctor routine. Well anyway, maybe this spill was meant to be, because it highlights any company's culture that has the dough rolling in and has a tendency to "prop their feet on their tables" and think "don't worry about it, we'll pinch pennies", when in reality, this disaster has the potential of bringing Matson to its knees, if it has not done so already. This is me, over and out.
on September 20,2013 | 07:32PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Goodness! A late Friday afternoon, let's miss the news cycle, bad news for the State and a powerful corporation story. I've never seen such a thing.
on September 20,2013 | 09:12PM
localguy wrote:
Once again our DOT looks like a bunch of Keystone Cops. No professional management, no one truly in charge who knows what to do. What is it with government agencies consistently failing taxpayers? Why is there so much willful incompetence? At least DOT and Matson are both admitting willful incompetence versus hunkering down and hoping it goes away. Lets hope both of them do a thorough house cleaning and find competent people. Sad.
on September 20,2013 | 09:13PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Yes however if a judge or mediator who is a lawyer was to rule on this case, what would the outcome be? On the one hand the State had notified Matson of the leak about a year earlier, which needed to be warning enough that there needed to be at least a mitigating procedure to at least have a professional inspect it and have it remedied. Thank goodness only fish died, nonetheless living creatures, that is part of our sustenance. Suppose this was 15th century Hawaii, then in those days we would not have had the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands yet by Captain Cook and later by the founder of First Hawaiian Bank, the certain Mr. Bishop, whose name resides on The Bishop Museum as well as The Bishop Estates. However another digression !!!!! Dammmmnnn its so noisy in this McDonald's, oh it's Friday night. Well anyway, Does the state need to baby sit Matson? Hahahahahahahahahahaha !!!!!!
on September 20,2013 | 09:39PM
poidragon wrote:
Ok, so now it seems that both the State of Hawaii and Matson may be complicit in this 'molasses fiasco' that has devastated the Honolulu harbor/Sand Island ecosystem! So what now, we have the Federal EPA come in and fine both entities for not having a 'remedial plan of action' incase a molasses spill ever occurred in Hawaiian waters and causing an ecological disaster that could cause the collapse of the fish species ecosphere in the Sand Island area? The State dept. of Transportation needs to be held responsible for their lack of oversight and poor response planning; as should the executives at Matson company!
on September 21,2013 | 02:36AM
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