Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Matson Pleads Guilty to Harbor Spill

By Mark Edward Nero

Matson Inc. said Oct. 21 that it has pled guilty and agreed to pay $1 million to settle charges that it spilled more than 230,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor in September 2013.

Under the agreement, Matson Terminals pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The charges had been filed by the US Attorney’s Office in Hawaii in response to the spill, which occurred on Sept. 9 and 10, 2013 when the molasses leaked at Pier 52 through a hole in a pipe. About 233,000 gallons of molasses spilled into Honolulu Harbor.

The spill is believed to have caused or contributed to the deaths of about 25,000 fish and much of the reef in both the harbor and nearby Keehi Lagoon.

“Matson has cooperated with the US Attorney’s office and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division throughout their investigation of the September 2013 molasses incident,” Matson President and CEO Matt Cox said in a statement announcing the resolution. “While we regret the incident, we are focused on resolving the matter, subject to the court’s approval of the agreement. We continue to cooperate with the state and the EPA in an effort to address impacts from the incident.”

Of the $1 million Matson has agreed to pay, $400,000 is a fine, while $600,000 is a community service payment. Of that amount, half is to be donated to the Waikiki Aquarium, while the other $300,000 is earmarked for the Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii environmental organization, which organizes local beach cleanups.

Matson, which halted its molasses pipeline system at the harbor’s Sand Island terminal after the spill, said it has yet to resolve any civil claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or claims by the state of Hawaii arising from the spill.

The agreement is still subject to approval by the US District Court.