Some Honolulu Harbor tenants miss pipeline inquiry deadline - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Some Honolulu Harbor tenants miss pipeline inquiry deadline

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A key deadline just passed in the state's push to tighten rules for harbor tenants after the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor. Companies that use pipelines now face new scrutiny.

18 tenants with pipeline easements on harbor properties in Hawaii received a letter last month from the Department of Transportation. The state notified them that for the first time they had to submit details about pipeline inspections and spill response plans by October 15. The change is due to the molasses leak that devastated marine life in the harbor.

"Unfortunately, because of the spill occurring, we kind of know that things haven't been as tight or there haven't been the type of inspections that should have occurred," said Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii.

The pipelines carry products like gasoline, jet fuel and chemicals. Harris called the new requirement a good first step.

"Going forward, recognizing that millions of dollars of damage occurred here, it's really important that DOT assigns enough resources to make sure that they're actually investigating, that they're actually making sure that they're following up on it as well," said Harris.

Six tenants, or one-third, failed to reply, according to a DOT spokeswoman. Officials said they're reviewing the information submitted and following up with those that requested an extension. They did not indicate whether there would be penalties for non-compliance.

"If people aren't able to respond in a timely manner, if people aren't doing inspections, they should lose their lease and they should be removed for a better tenant," Harris said. "Hopefully, going forward we've all learned our lesson and everybody has a shared interest in making sure that this never happens again."

Matson's response to the DOT inquiry said that the company had ceased its molasses operation and wouldn't start up again until the investigation was complete, according to a Matson spokesman.

The state also plans to hold meetings with harbor users to ensure response plans are in place for all cargo, not just products carried in pipelines.

Here is a statement from the Hawaii Department of Transportation:

The Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbor's Division is working closely with its pipeline tenants to ensure that they are adhering to the terms and conditions of lease easement agreements which stipulate that they are required to maintain and inspect their pipelines.

As part of this process, a letter was sent to all pipeline tenants reminding them that are required to have an inspection plan to properly inspect, maintain and test pipelines and related facilities to ensure its integrity and safe operation, and to maintain and implement a spill response plan.

HDOT Harbor's Division is currently in the process of reviewing the information that has been submitted from pipeline tenants and following up with those that requested for an extension.

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