Keehi Lagoon reopens after molasses spill, but business sluggish - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Keehi Lagoon reopens after molasses spill, but business sluggish

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Keehi Lagoon was reopened to recreational and commercial ocean activities Saturday, nearly two weeks after the Matson molasses spill that killed thousands of fish and turned the water brown.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had closed the lagoon to ocean recreation Sept. 13, five days after the spill at Honolulu Harbor.

A week ago, the waters in the lagoon between Lagoon Drive and the reef runway at Honolulu International Airport were still brown, and dead fish were still floating on the surface. Saturday showed the area looked back to normal.

On the other side of the lagoon, there were only a few people at the boat ramp on Sand Island, including two fishermen and a handful of people swimming in the water.

There are two commercial Jet Ski operators at Keehi Lagoon, including Aloha Jet Ski and X-treme Parasail and Jet Ski. Aloha Jet Ski said it was only taking reservations and planned to resume full operations on Sunday.

X-treme Parasail said it was back in the water, but there were very few customers.

"Normally on a Saturday we have 50 Jet Skiers," said X-treme Parasail owner Greg Longnecker. "Today I think we did four."

Longnecker said having the Jet Ski part of his business shut down for ten days meant the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue. Three employees were furloughed. 

"Once everybody knows its reopened, then that will start to build momentum again, and then hopefully by next week, it'll be back to normal," said Longnecker. "But it's hard to say what's gonna happen."

The La Mariana Sailing Club's restaurant was hit hard by the molasses spill, as the sight and smell of dead fish kept customers away. The waters were much clearer on Saturday, and fish were even seen swimming near the restaurant.

"It's going way better now," said restaurant hostess Istarlynn Howard. "Our customers are coming back. The smell is gone. It's beautiful now, it's great."

Matson Navigation Company has taken responsibility, and has been taking claims from people and businesses who have been affected by the spill. X-treme Parasail has already been in discussions with the company.

"I have to say, Matson's been very good," said Longnecker. "We met with an adjuster yesterday and they've been very up-front in working with us, and it's looks like we're going to have resolution to that. So I'm looking forward to that as well." 

Previous story: Ocean activities shut down at Keehi Lagoon

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