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Molasses Spill In Honolulu Spells Marine Disaster

Last Sunday, a molasses pipeline was found to be leaking into the Honolulu Harbor. The amount of molasses floating around the harbor is equal to about a third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, which might not seem like all that much, but don’t be fooled; once that sticky clump starts to spread, it will begin causing massive damage to the area.

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Image source: www.usatoday.com

One such expected result is an increase in marine algae, which just happens to be a harmful strain of bacteria. The molasses will eventually dilute and be broken down, but that isn’t going to happen until sometime this week, giving the clumped substance plenty of time to wreck havoc.

Other  disasters could potentially stem from this leak, including coating lobsters, fish, worms, sea fans, etc. in molasses, effectively killing them and damaging the fishing economy in that particular area. The sticky molasses acts a lot like oil, in that it doesn’t mix with the water (entirely), and suffocates whatever it attaches to.

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Image source: www.treehugger.com

The Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency have not become involved in the situation, since the spill in question is not hazardous or oil. Since they have decided not to help, the molasses spill will run its course until it flushes out into the ocean. At this moment, no one is being held responsible for the spill, although you can almost be certain that if real damage occurs, heads will roll…from somewhere.

The spill itself happened during loading procedures. The molasses were supposed to be placed on a ship owned by the transport company Matson Navigation, and delivered to the U.S. West Coast. Luckily, no one was swimming around the area when the leak began. The spill is similar to a leak that happened in Boston in 1919, when a tank of molasses exploded and flooded the streets, although that disaster ended up killing 12 people.

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