Wednesday, December 10, 2003

50,000 gallons of molasses
spills into Maui harbor

No long-term damage is expected
from the leak from a pipeline

WAILUKU >> A two-inch hole in a state transmission line spilled 50,000 gallons of molasses into Kahului Harbor Monday.

Scott Cunningham, the state harbor master in Kahului, said the break in the pipeline at Pier 1 appears to be an anomaly and the rest of the line seems in "excellent condition." The break is scheduled to be fixed today.

The state Clean Water Branch said the molasses, a thick syrup produced during sugar refining, is not a pollutant and will mix with ocean water and be flushed out of the harbor, especially under winter storm conditions.

"It does not appear that there will be any long-term damage to harbor waters," said Mike Tsuji, the branch's enforcement section supervisor.

John Jackson, manager of Kahului Trucking & Storage, said the molasses spill amounts to about $15,000 in losses.

The molasses from Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. was supposed to be pumped aboard a Matson Navigation Co. barge from a storage tank.

Cunningham said the spill was reported when Kahului Trucking officials noticed a discrepancy between the amount of molasses leaving the storage tank and being received by a barge.

Kahului Trucking & Storage and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. are subsidiaries of Alexander & Baldwin Inc., as is Matson Navigation.

Cunningham said harbor workers saw discolored water and shut down the transmission line.

Jackson, who has worked for Kahului Trucking for 12 years, said the break was the first major disruption in the transmission of molasses in his memory.


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