Matson to Pay for Honolulu Molasses Spill Response

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September 17, 2013

An environmental cleanup crew scoops a dead eel out of Keehi Lagoon after a massive molasses spill from a Matson cargo ship in Honolulu, Hawaii, September 12 ,2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

Jones Act shipping company Matson (NYSE: MATX) says it will cover all costs associated with the Honolulu Harbor molasses spill response, sparing Hawaiian taxpayers of the burden. Matson President and CEO, Matt Cox, reaffirmed Matson’s commitment at a news conference, held at Pier 34 in the harbor. He also stated that customer rates would not be affected by the incident.

“We operate the pipeline and it is our transfer operation,” Cox said. “Matson is taking responsibility and we’ll continue to fully cooperate with the state on this response.  We’ll be here as long as it takes to get it right.”

Cox announced that Matson immediately ceased its molasses operations following the incident and will not resume operations until the company is assured that it can do it in a safe and responsible manner.

“Our goal always is to conduct cargo loading operations safely and in an environmentally responsible manner,” he said.

He added that his pipeline operations team is already working on a report that will provide him with information needed to determine the future of Matson’s molasses cargo business.

“If it is determined that the system cannot be operated safely or in an environmentally responsible manner, and that repairing and replacing the system would be impractical, we will discontinue our molasses operations,” he said.

Cox said the report would be provided to the Department of Health and other agencies once it is complete.

At the news briefing, Cox also acknowledged the agencies that have lead the response, including the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and the Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT), and the other agencies that are supporting the effort.

He also acknowledged his own company’s response team, which has been working together with the agencies since the incident occurred last week.

“The Matson response team will continue to be a critical part of the response.  I’m proud of their efforts.  They are fully cooperating with the state and will continue to cooperate as the response moves forward,” he said.

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