Health officials predict long term impact from Honolulu molasses - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Health officials predict long term impact from Honolulu molasses spill

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The long term impact of 233,000 gallons of molasses spilling into Honolulu Harbor is uncharted waters.

The State Health Department is testing water samples daily to track oxygen and bacteria levels. 

"We're not currently sure what the molasses is going to do for the bacteria itself" explained State Water Unit Supervisor Dayna Ornellas.   

Dr. Christian Wayland, State Laboratory Director for the Department of Health State Lab Division added, "It's possible we can have a large overgrowth of bacteria which is also going to degrade the water quality and drive the dissolved oxygen down again."

Scientists warn that could trigger round two, another fish kill. That's on top of the 25-thousand already smothered by the molasses plume.

Dr. Wayland went on to say, "The impact of the plume on the dissolved oxygen has really been devastating. It's excluded the oxygen from the water."

We talked to boaters moored in the heart of the spill zone at Keehi Boat Harbor. They're concerned what impact the molasses is having.

"My boat's name is No Huhu. In Hawaiian, that means No Worries" said sailboat owner Lex Hanna, "but I'm a little worried now I tell ya."

He's worried because of thick growth never seen in these waters before.

"That's not normal for out here" said trimaran owner Rick Cowden.

They're concerned what damage could happen if they pump molasses or dead fish through their boats by starting their engines. "We're afraid. I just spent 4 thousand on my engine" said Hanna.

"You've got to use them, start them. Right now, we're completely dead in the water" explained Cowden.

"If molasses or dead fish go through into the through hull, the motors, then we're gonna have problems. I'll contact Matson because this is their problem. They've created it. We'll have to haul out."

When asked for a ballpark figure for costs to haul out his trimaran and repair any damage, Cowden responded, "Oh gosh, 25-30 grand."

Long time Keehi boaters say they don't need lab results to know the spill has changed this ecosystem.

In addition to unusual growth, they cite shark sightings inside the harbor. Cowden said he wouldn't go in the water because in his words, "I haven't seen many big sharks in Keehi, but boy there's some big ones in here feeding on dead fish.

Stay with Hawaii News Now for the latest as we continue to cover the Molasses Spill Disaster and lasting impact on the water and marine life.

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