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Keehi Lagoon reopens for recreation, commercial ocean activities

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:30 a.m. HST, Sep 24, 2013

Keehi Lagoon is now reopened for recreational and commercial ocean activities, nearly two weeks after the molasses spill from a Matson pipeline that killed thousands of fish and marine life.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources reopened Keehi Lagoon on Saturday after banning recreational and commercial use on Sept. 13, five days after the spill at Honolulu Harbor.

On Friday, water samples taken by the Molasses Release Honolulu Harbor Incident Command indicated oxygen levels in Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon are returning to normal. No molasses was sighted during a helicopter survey Friday. 

Based on the findings from the incident command, the Department of Health recommended that signs warning the public to stay out of affected areas be removed. State officials confirmed Friday that the water no longer has a brownish tint and that oxygen levels have returned to normal in all of the state's 15 test sites in the harbor, lagoon and two contributing streams.

Emergency response activities will now transition to the recovery and restoration phase led by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The closure affected two commercial "thrillcraft" operations -- Aloha Jetski and Diamond Head Parasails and Water Sports -- in Keehi Lagoon.

Matson Navigation Company has taken responsibility, and has been taking claims from people and businesses who were affected by the spill of 233,000 gallons of molasses.

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