Earlier this week we discussed (again) the horrifying events unfolding at the disabled Fukushima reactor in Japan involving large amounts of radioactive waste water making its way out into the Pacific Ocean. Today we regretfully bring news of around 230,000 gallons of… molasses leaking from a ruptured pipe located on the coast of Hawaii.
Yes, you read that correctly: 230,000 gallons of molasses oozed from a broken pipe as the Maston Navigation Company attempted to transfer a shipment of molasses from holding tanks on land to an oceangoing transport ship bound for somewhere in California.
- Hawaii’s Department of Health stated that 100’s of fish have already died and that the death toll could reach a number in the 1,000’s.
- 230,000 gallons of molasses weighs about 1,400 tons.
- News outlets have shown images of fish sticking their ‘mouths’ out of the water in an effort to breathe because the thick, syrupy molasses (which tinted the water a nasty shade of bright brown) certainly contained less breathable oxygen than regular, untainted ocean water.
- Bodies of dead and dying fish, eels, crabs and other creatures litter the ocean floor near the site of the accidental spill… causing officials to suggest people avoid entering the water due to the risk of predators (you know… friendly creatures like sharks and barracuda) picking up the scent of all the death and coming by for an easy meal.
- As of the time we wrote this article, no decision as to whether or not Maston would face charges for violating the Clean Water Act. We would like to think, however, that once all the dust (or in this case molasses) settles, someone other than the taxpayers will get stuck footing the bill for the cleanup of this sticky mess.
Sorry for the bad pun.
- Officials plan to take water samples around the spill area periodically so they can determine when the molasses has dissipated sufficiently — OR possibly drifted out to sea as an amorphous, oxygen-replacing blob.
Stories like this make us wonder how many other accidental spills take place around us that no one — other than those directly involved in the spills — ever finds out about.
Test kits for molasses?
Uh, no, not really. Last we checked molasses did not appear on the EPA’s list of Primary Drinking Water Standards and we suspect that even after this spill, no one will petition the EPA to add it to the list.
Moral of the story?
Disasters like this one, the recent killing off of fish in a 40 kilometer stretch of the Fuhe River (by an ammonia discharge from a chemical plant) in China, and the radioactive debacle at the Fukushima nuclear reactor site in Japan will continue to happen so we suggest staying vigilant, watching the news for word of environmental issues in your area, and, of course, testing your water periodically.
Perhaps you may not ever test for molasses or radioactive materials, but you may possibly have a need at some point to test for more common drinking water contaminants like heavy metals (i.e. iron, copper, lead, etc.), pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and others.