Cleanup efforts underway after grounded luxury yacht leaked fuel into Maui bay

A salvage plan is currently in development for the yacht.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:42 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2023 at 8:26 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cleanup efforts are underway after a luxury yacht ran aground near a Maui marine sanctuary leaked fuel into the bay.

The Coast Guard was at Honolua Bay on Thursday and a Pacific Helicopter chopper was seen lifting barrels of fuel from the grounded boat onto land. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said from there, the vessel will be transported offsite.

“We just asked you to do the pono thing and use your resources that are here. Obviously people in Lahaina are very resourceful and we absolutely love our bay,” said Lahaina resident Kalikolehua Storer.

The 94-foot yacht called the Nakoa is stuck in a prime surf spot and near a marine sanctuary.

People have been protecting the bay for nearly 15 years.

Locals have a message to the boat’s owner.

“Don’t do this again,” said Lahaina resident Noelle Storer. “Clean up what you made ... because it’s a sacred place to Hawaiian people and Hawaiian culture.”

During the cleanup operation, officials said the dirt road near Lipoa Point, that overlooks Honolua Bay, will be closed.

The vessel has been stuck on the reef since Monday. It’s not known how much fuel leaked into the ocean.

On Tuesday, a sheen of diesel fuel was visible in waters surrounding the boat and people nearby complained of the stench of fuel in the air.

Active leaks have stopped because one of the owner’s friends managed to board the yacht and shut off all the pumps.

DLNR said booms were placed around the fuel to keep any remaining diesel from moving out of the immediate area.

Divers noted they found at least 30 coral and live rock were damaged in the grounding of vessel.

Maui officials: Luxury yacht that ran aground near marine sanctuary leaked fuel into bay

DLNR said the boat can’t be excavated until all fuel, batteries and any other pollutants aboard are removed. They added it will likely be a few more days before the vessel is freed from the rocks and reef.

DLNR said it’s still investigating what led to the Nakoa grounding and citations and fines could be levied based on the findings of that investigation.

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