KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A minor molasses leak in Kahului Harbor this afternoon prompted Alexander & Baldwin Inc. to temporarily halt all shipments of molasses to the mainland.
A&B had re-started shipments of the sugar byproduct on Thursday and was in the final stages of loading its first barge when it discovered that two gallons of the syrupy substance had leaked into the harbor.
The leak comes less than two months after shipping giant Matson Inc. dumped 233,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor, killing tens of thousands of fish.
"We are investigating the cause of the leakage, which appears to be a break in a pipeline," said A&B President Chris Benjamin.
"While the leak into the harbor was very small and quickly dissipated, we take all of these incidents seriously and will not resume our loading until the pipeline has been repaired."
A&B said the section where the leak occurred was not underwater and was encased in cement. The company said it was discovered by its 24-hour monitoring team.
A&B's Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. owns the state's last sugar plantation, which produces about 50,000 tons of molasses a year as a byproduct of the sugar it makes. It exports the molasses to the mainland, where it is used as cattle feed.
But Matson stopped shipping the molasses for A&B after the Honolulu Harbor spill, forcing A&B to stockpile the gooey material on Maui. A&B had been reloading the molasses onto a barge operated by a charter company before today's spill.
The spill is A&B's second in Kahului Harbor. In 2003, a leaking pipeline dumped a reported 50,000 gallons of molasses into the Maui harbor.