The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is sending two on-scene coordinators to Oahu to assist the State in its response to the spill of an estimated 224,000 gallons of molasses on Sunday.
"After several conversations with officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency has decided to send two on-scene coordinators with expertise in spill response to Oahu today to assist the state. We are also in touch with the Governor and his staff, and will work with them to ensure that all appropriate federal resources and expertise are focused on this spill. Through coordination, we can help to minimize damage to our natural resources, marine life, and businesses," Schatz said. "This is a serious situation, and it requires a coordinated, aggressive response at all levels of government."
The EPA personnel have expertise in spill response and plan to meet with State officials and other federal agencies involved with addressing the spill shortly after their arrival. According to EPA officials, molasses spills can be technically challenging to contain and clean up. Approaches used on oil spills such as floating booms and skimming to contain the liquid are ineffective. Pending an on-site assessment, EPA may recommend a technique known as "air curtains" to protect particularly sensitive affected areas. This technique uses long tubes to oxygenate water and help disperse and break down contaminants.
In addition to receiving updates from EPA, Senator Schatz will receive a briefing from NOAA today. Andy Winer, Senator Schatz's Chief of Staff, is a former NOAA official and was involved in the Deepwater Horizon spill response. His expertise and experience is proving valuable in helping address the current situation.
"Senator Schatz and our staff will work closely with all relevant federal agencies to ensure that Hawaii has access to federal resources which can assist in the cleanup and remediation of this spill," said Schatz Chief of Staff Andy Winer.