Molasses Spill in Hawaii

By: Emily Michaud 8D


On September 12, 2013, Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii suffered from a molasses spill that has killed many species of marine life. The spill was caused by Matson, a company that delivers the molasses. Robert Richmond University of Hawaii marine biology professor and director of Kewalo Marine Laboratory said, "Coral reefs are a huge tourist attraction, which thereby make them essential to Hawaii’s tourism-based economy. But they also serve crucial environmental and ecological functions. Richmond cited a study that valued Hawaii's coral reefs at $3 billion worth of “ecosystem services,” thanks to their essential roles in blockading waves and preventing coastal erosion," because the reefs are so important to Hawaii, this is causing many issues.


• 233,000 gallons of molasses infested the waters of Honolulu Harbor.

• Molasses can support the growth of algae, which is unhealthy for the reefs.

• Professor RIchmond said, "They have little unicellular algae that live inside that basically make them solar powered, so they're losing their major source of energy, but in addition, the coral's just simply dying flat out."

• The chemistry of the water is causing the fishes cells to break.

• Some are saying that the molasses is in some ways worse than an oil spill.

• Molasses is similar to nitrogen in the way that it creates "dead zones."


Reef- A ridge of rock, coral, or sand the is either just above or below the surface of an ocean.

The reef in Honolulu Harbor suffered from bleaching and death.

Invertebrate- An animal that does not have a backbone.

The invertebrates the lived in the harbor were all killed.

Algae- A group of nonflowering plants that can either be unicellular or multicellular that most commonly grow in bodies of water.

The coral contains algae that makes it survive off of the sun.

Seabed- The floor of the ocean.

The seabed of Honolulu Harbor was covered with dead sea animals.


Matson, a leading U.S. carrier in the pacific is the company that is responsible for the 233,000 gallons of molasses that were spilled into Honolulu Harbor. Matson has a pipeline that was transferring the molasses that burst, spilling the molasses into the water. Due to the damage that has been done to the environment in Hawaii, Matson will have to pay as much as $25,000 a day until the molasses is cleaned up. Matson has ceased its molasses operations until the spill is taken care of.

Questions I have:

Will the molasses have longterm affects on the marine life?

How long will it take for the molasses to be completely cleaned up?

How does the molasses spill affect the people who live in the area?