This month marks a year since a quarter million gallons of molasses leaked into Honolulu Harbor from a Matson pipeline.
It was an environmental disaster that killed thousands of all kinds of marine life.
Gina Hernandez and her 3-year-old son Max were out at Honolulu Harbor checking out the fish along the shoreline at pier 34.
It was a different scene than they remember when they were here a year ago.
"There are actually more than we thought we would see we are seeing all kinds that we would normally see in fish tanks huh? Yeah, Right up close,”
Hernandez recalls being struck by the enormity and distress of seeing so many dead and dying fish so close to shore.
"I wondered how long it would take to clean it up, the wildlife, the damage, and how many they could save. It obviously is a tragedy when that happens," Hernandez said.
Tragic yes, as the state watched helplessly as day after day as crews were on the water collecting dead and dying fish from Honolulu Harbor to Keehi Lagoon.
It was a threat that caught the attention of other states and other counties
because there is little on the books about regulating the transfer and storage
of food substances like molasses or syrup.
"At least people have it now on their radar screen. What we don’t know still is why. Why is molasses so toxic in the marine environment, so surprisingly toxic. There's a lot of science to be done," said state environmental deputy director Gary Gill.
In the lab, state and federal scientists responded trying to understand why the oxygen-starved marine life were affected in the way they were.
There are pieces of a puzzle that many hands were working on to contain and resolve.
But some of the answers are still elusive.
"How would you be able to remediate mitigate, slow down or stop the toxic impact in the ecosystem. We weren't able to do that for the molasses spill here.
We monitored it. We watched as it diluted and went out to sea, and was at no longer at a concentration to do harm. But we did not have a way to respond to reduce the toxicity and to do anything once it went in,"
The 27-thousand dead fish were disposed off at a rendering plant to find new life as fertilizer.
It was another page turned on the container load of frozen fish.
But liability and remediation issues are still unresolved.
The state has still not released any figures about the cost of the cleanup or the impact to marine life--the coral and the fish.
And a report that Matson promised to release publically, has yet to see the light of day.
The EPA says its investigation is still ongoing.
We did reached out to the state attorney general and to Matson for an update weeks ago, but have yet to get a response.
But the public is wondering what's taking so long.
And there are questions about how Matson plans to handle removing the remaining molasses that's still in the system.