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Friday, September 13, 2013
Molasses Mess: Abercrombie Deflects Blame for Lax Inspections
By News Release @ 2:10 PM :: 6944 Views :: Environment, Hawaii State Government, Jones Act

Abercrombie is deflecting blame away from his Department of Transportation and Department of Health for failure to inspect Matson's molasses loading operations at Honolulu Harbor.  

Here is the rundown:

Questions of Lax Oversight Plague Honolulu Harbor Molasses Spill

CB: ...The sun was hot, but a mob of reporters also bombarded Vic Angoco, senior vice president for Matson’s Pacific operations, with questions. What caused the spill? What will keep it from happening again? Will the well-known shipping company ultimately pay for the damages?

It went a bit like this:

Is there a record of when the last time the pipeline was inspected?

Angoco: “I have not even looked.”...

Nor did he know, he said, if Matson was required to provide inspection reports to the state or how often the pipes were supposed to be inspected, and he didn’t want to get into details about who exactly inspects the pipeline....

Carolyn Sluyter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, also had few answers to the questions reporters have been asking all week.

Asked if Matson is required to file inspection reports with DOT, she said, “I’m checking on that, but not to my knowledge at this point.”

She said it is “unclear” if Matson has to file a cleanup plan with the state in case of a molasses spill, but she didn’t think it was required....

Gary Gill, deputy director for environmental health for the Department of Health, said that the state may consider options to increase oversight over harbor pipelines....  (Even though the State is apparently not fulfilling its responsibilities under current oversight regulations.)

read ... Questions of Lax Oversight

KHON:  State partially to blame for molasses spill

SA: Matson, state lacked molasses spill plans

KHON: Matson lays out timeline of massive molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor

  • Saturday 6:00 p.m. – SS Maui Matson ship arrives
  • Saturday 6:30 p.m. – Pumping of molasses begins
  • Sunday 10:00 a.m. – Molasses transfer complete, no indication of problems
  • Monday 7:00 a.m. – Reports of unusual substance in the water
  • Monday afternoon – Environmental response contractor arrives on scene for inspections
  • Tuesday mid-day – leak discovered

KITV: Faulty pipe was not supposed to be in use at time of spill  “A faulty pipe with a hole about the size of a fist was found at the end of Matson's barge at Honolulu Harbor on Horizons side.”

SA: Molasses Spill Highlights Gap in Harbor Rules

DoT Owns Pier With Faulty Molasses Pipe: State Points Finger at Feds

SA Sept 15, 2013: Divers discovered the leak below the valve in a 90-degree bend in the pipe. Lee said contractors plugged up the hole and are working on evacuating the pipes of all molasses so Matson can devise a more permanent solution.

Lee said Matson doesn’t know the historical context of the pipe and that it is working with the state Department of Transportation, which owns the pier, to figure it out....

Gary Gill of State DoH said he plans to meet with Hawaii’s congressional delegation this week to discuss the spill.

“Molasses pipelines and the molasses industry have been under the radar,” he said. “While there have been spills in the past in the world, they’ve really never been addressed in a regulatory environment — and it’s pretty clear now what the impact can be.

“You would expect that in response to this there’s going to be a lot of ideas of changing the laws and the rules both here in the state and across the nation.”  (The one thing we know for sure is that its not Neil's fault.  Got that?)

read ... Whose Fault?

And here is the Governor's statement: 

Governor’s Statement Regarding the Molasses Spill into Honolulu Harbor

News Release from Office of the Governor September 12, 2013

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today released the following statement about the state’s response to the Honolulu Harbor molasses spill:

“The emergency response programs of the Department of Health, the aquatic resources division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Department of Transportation Harbors staff are working as a team to respond to this spill, reduce its impact and protect the health of our people. The affected area is limited to a portion of the Honolulu Harbor channel and Keehi Lagoon. 

Matson accepts responsibility for the spill and is working directly with the state and federal agencies to respond to this unprecedented event.

“My administration will do everything needed to restore harbor channel waters to the highest quality and take all appropriate action to ensure that such a spill will not reoccur.”

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