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Matson agrees to $15.4M settlement for 2013 molasses spill

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Placido Shim shows two fish he gaffed that were floating past his boat, apparently killed by a massive molasses spill from a Matson pipeline.

Matson Navigation Co. has agreed to a $15.4 million settlement with the state for the September 2013 spill of 233,000 gallons of molasses in to Honolulu Harbor, officials said Wednesday.

State Attorney General Doug Chin announced the settlement at a news conference at his Queen Street office.

Chin said the $15.4 million, plus an earlier $600,000 penalty from a federal judge, makes it one of the largest settlements in an environmental case in Hawaii history.

He said the settlement between the state and Matson is “an opportunity to take steps to repair the damage that was done.”

The spill from a pipe killed more than 26,000 fish and other marine life, authorities said. Part of the settlement will be used to restore coral reefs in another location outside the commercial harbor, Chin said. Matson has also agreed to remove its molasses tank farm at Sand Island terminal and the pipeline.

The shipping company pleaded guilty in October 2014 to two misdemeanor charges in federal court for the molasses spill. As part of that plea deal, Matson agreed to pay a $400,000 fine and $600,000 in restitution to the Waikiki Aquarium and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

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