AbstractMatson Navigation Company had been shipping molasses from Maui to Honolulu Harbor for 30 years, once a week, when in September 2013, 1,400 t of molasses spilled into Honolulu Harbor by way of a corroded pipe. This spill was not discovered until September 9, and resulted in the death of all marine life in the area due to deoxygenation, as discovered by divers. At the time, molasses was unregulated and therefore spill response plans were not required. The following year, Matson pleaded guilty in a federal court to violating 33 United States Code 407, the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899. Then, 2 years later, in July 2015, Matson paid the State of Hawai‘i a $15.4 million settlement in the forms of cash, restoration, and funding of environmental programs. In 2017, the EPA charged Matson with a civil settlement, marking the end of all criminal and civil cases against Matson. As a result of this incident, Hawai‘i DOT (HDOT) requires all businesses using port pipelines to provide documentation of pipeline inspections and spill response plans to prevent future environmental and economic disasters. This paper summarizes events associated with the spill and discusses the statute used to prosecute Matson, the spill’s impact, and the handling of the spill response. Using primary and secondary sources from library and online searches, the authors identify breakdowns in protocol and conclude that the spill could have been prevented if Matson and Hawai‘i Department of Transportation had communicated more effectively.

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