Ecosocialist Notebook

Another pipeline disaster: Molasses kills

Think about this the next time someone tells you pipelines are safe …

Experts say this is the worst maritime environmental disaster in Hawaii’s history.

On September 9, a corroded pipeline operated by Matson Inc. leaked in Honolulu, spilling 233,000 gallons of molasses into the bay.

That’s right, molasses. Sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? But there is nothing funny about this. The thick sweet glop is killing every living thing from crabs to coral. Dead fish are floating on the surface, but far more lie on the bottom.

Like tar sands bitumen, molasses sinks to the bottom, smothering every plant and animal it covers. Unlike bitumen, it promotes algae growth, which uses up the oxygen needed by the animals that avoid the molasses itself.

There is no way to clean it up. Just wait until it all dissolves naturally, they say. But that could take years.

There’s big money involved and — surprise! — no one has wanted to interfere with a successful business venture, so molasses pipelines are totally unregulated. No one knows when — if ever — this pipeline was last inspected by its owners. Matson had no response plan.

This is the result:


More from my notebook …

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