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Endangered species unhurt in Hawaii molasses spill

    A barrel brimmed with dead marine life Thursday as it sat on the dock fronting the La Mariana Sailing Club in Keehi Lagoon. Thousands of fish have been killed by Monday's huge molasses spill at Honolulu Harbor, according to Department of Health Deputy Director Gary Gill, and the impact is expected to widen. An official with Matson Inc., from whose pipe the molasses leaked, said Thursday the shipping company did not have a response plan for such a spill even though it regularly exports molasses to the mainland. See story, A20.

A Hawaii state official in charge of cleaning up the spill of 1,400 tons of molasses in Honolulu Harbor says no endangered species have been hurt in the accident.

Dr. Keith Kawaoka of the Hawaii Department of Health said today that no endangered species have been identified among the more than 26,000 dead fish, shellfish and other marine life that have been collected from nearby waters.

Water samples tested from different points in the harbor and a nearby lagoon have shown improved oxygen levels, while the water also looks visually better from flyover surveys, said Kawaoka, chief of the department’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office.

“We will see this thing through until we see a final resolution,” Kawaoka said.

State and federal agencies have been responding since the spill of about 233,000 gallons was discovered last week. Matson Navigation Co. is responsible, and has pledged to pay all costs to clean up.

Matson’s CEO Matt Cox said Monday that the transportation company is investigating the spill, and will pay for the cleanup without passing on the costs to taxpayers or its customers.

The spill was discovered Sept. 9 in Honolulu Harbor in an industrial area west of downtown, where Matson loads molasses and other goods for shipping, about 5 miles west of Waikiki.

The molasses spilled from a leaky pipe as the sugary substance was moved from storage tanks to a ship sailing to California.

Kawaoka spoke today on a conference call organized by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, with several federal agencies updating their involvement in the cleanup.

Kawaoka said the greatest concentration of discolored water is near a Honolulu Airport runway made of coral and in ocean waters near a boathouse in a nearby lagoon.

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