State: Matson pipe was leaking year before molasses spill - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State: Matson pipe was leaking year before molasses spill

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Letter to Matson Letter to Matson
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The warnings signs are set to come down from Keehi Lagoon and Honolulu Harbor will reopen.

But that comes amidst the big bombshell today - Matson knew about the leaking pipe. It was warned in a letter from the Department of Transportation more than a year ago.

"Yes, the specific pipe in the letter is the source of this molasses leak," Matson Senior VP Vic Angoco said. 

This admission from Matson's Senior VP Angoco contradicts prior statements that the company had no knowledge of the pipeline that leaked 233,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor. The letter was dated July 2012.

"That crew noticed molasses dripping from the pier at 51B," DOT Deputy Director Randy Grune said.

DOT notified Matson that the molasses pipeline under Pier 51B between the 900 and 950 foot markers was leaking. A steady drip of molasses was observed from the elbow of the pipeline.

"We did respond to the letter," Angoco said. "We did not observe any dripping molasses nor did we observe any molasses in the water on both occasions that I sent, we sent a crew out an inspection...it's a non-regulated product."

DOT crews noticed the leak in May, but dropped the ball this time.

"There's no correspondence to Matson informing them of the situation observed in May of 2013," Grune said.

DOT withheld information about the leaks as recently as Monday, when asked point blank.

"so at no time DOT flagged the issue of that pipe to Matson? Not to my knowledge right now," DOT Director Glenn Okimoto said. 

"The reason I wasn't sure at that time was if it was attorney client privilege information,"Grune said. "since then, we've understand it's not."

The DOT will require all pipeline tenants file a written response with inspection dates, findings and a spill response plan for regulated and unregulated products by next month.

In the meantime, the numbers of dead fish are dropping, while oxygen levels return to normal in the harbor.

Click here to read a statement from Matson. 

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