Nearly 1,400 tons of molasses recently spilled into Honolulu Harbor and
the Keehi Lagoon causing thousands of fish to die and prompting warnings
for beach go-ers to stay out of the water. While environmental officials
say that only tides will alleviate the problem over time, how will the
spill affect residents and tourism?
"A Brown, Sticky, Smelly Mess"
That’s how many people who have seen the damage describe the situation.
According to the
Los Angeles Times, molasses manufacturer Matson Inc., claimed at least partial responsibility
for the spill that leaked hundreds of thousands of gallons of molasses
into Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon.
Matson said that one of its ships was heading out for the west coast when
a leak was discovered in a pipeline near one of the harbor’s piers.
Authorities say that as much as 1,400 tons of molasses may have leaked
into nearby waterways. The bad smell is likely due to the thousands of
fish that have died since the accident.
Since molasses sinks, efforts to clean up the mess are futile. Only the
natural tides will eventually disperse the molasses out into the ocean.
In the meantime, Honolulu residents and the many tourists who visit there
are likely to be affected by:
- Increased risk of shark / barracuda / eel attacks. According to the Hawaii
Department of Health, there is an increased risk of shark, barracuda and
eel attacks in shallow water due to the abundance of dead fish. The Department
is warning everyone to stay out of the waters affected by the spill.
- Altered environment. Since molasses sinks to the ocean floor, it can cause
an unusual growth for marine algae that could stimulate harmful bacteria
and trigger other environment impacts.
- Decreased tourism & restaurant usage. Hotels may see a decrease in
bookings when potential guests are faced with spending their vacation
on a beach that is far than what they imagined. Restaurants may also suffer
losses due to a decrease in tourism and a shortage of fresh seafood -
or simply from a fear that fresh food may actually be tainted.
So, who’s liable for these potential injuries and losses? That is
the $60,000 question. In this case, it appears to be Matson, Inc. However,
there now seems to be some confusion over who was responsible for maintaining
the molasses pipes on the pier - the company or Hawaiian government officials.
Proving Liability: How An Experienced Hawaii Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Proving liability is not always an easy task - especially when insurance
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