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The Great Molasses Spill of 2013 (and whatever happened to young Pasquale Iantosca?)

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The Great Molasses Spill of 2013 (and whatever happened to young Pasquale Iantosca?)

Old 09-12-13, 01:26 PM
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The Great Molasses Spill of 2013 (and whatever happened to young Pasquale Iantosca?)

Move over Fukushima.

A massive spill of thick molasses has turned Honolulu Harbor into a watery wasteland, with divers reporting that thousands of fish have been suffocated and environmentalists calling it a disaster.

“There’s nothing alive there at all,” diver Roger White told NBC affiliate KHNL after making a seven-minute video of dead sea life blanketing the bottom of the harbor.

Everything is dead. They’re all dead and they’re all just lying across the bottom -- hundreds and hundreds, thousands.”

A pipeline running from storage tanks to ships spewed up to 233,000 gallons of molasses – enough to fill one-third of an Olympic-size pool – into the water on Monday.

The shipping company, Matson Navigation, said the leak was repaired on Tuesday, but there's nothing it can do to clean up the mess.

"Unlike with an oil spill, it’s a sugar product so it will dissipate on its own," Matson spokesman Jeff Hull told NBC News on Thursday. "There’s not an active cleanup."

Sate officials said the thick substance swamping the harbor and turning the water brown has already wreaked havoc with marine life, making it difficult for fish and other creatures to breathe.

The die-off could lure predators like sharks, barracuda and eels to the harbor and neighboring Keehi Lagoon and cause a spike in algae and bacteria, they said.

"This is the worst environmental damage to sea life that I have come across, and it’s fair to say this is a biggie, if not the biggest that we've had to confront in the state of Hawaii," Gary Gill, deputy director for the Environmental Health Division of the Health Department, told KHNL.

A leaky pipe used to load molasses from storage tanks to ships docked in Honolulu headed for California has sent thousands of gallons of the brown, sugary substance into a harbor, killing fish and jeopardizing an ecosystem. KNHL's Tannya Joaquin reports.

The Health Department said the tides were bringing the plume into the lagoon and that it would eventually be swept out to sea.

Dr. David Field, a visiting assistant professor of marine sciences at Hawaii Pacific University, said the process would be slowed by the lack of circulation in the bay. He was also concerned that the molasses could affect the South Shore reefs as it spreads out.

In the short term, state officials and boaters were scooping hundreds of dead fish out of the harbor.

"It's really sad to see," said Russ Singer, who filled a bucket with puffer fish, eel, and reef fish in a few minutes. “I can’t stand looking at it.”

The Health Department has not decided whether to take action against Matson, which makes weekly runs of molasses from Hawaii’s last sugar plantation to the mainland.

Matson said it is investigating how the pipeline sprung a leak, cooperating with state officials, and taking to steps to guard against future spills.

"We have ceased our molasses operation, sealed the pipe and closed all the valves," Hull said. "It's all shut down at the moment.'

He said the company has been serving Hawaii for more than 130 years and while there have been other underwater leaks, none were of this magnitude.

"Matson regrets that the incident impacted many harbor users, as well as wildlife,” the company said in a statement. “We take our role as an environmental steward very seriously and have a strong record of leadership in the maritime industry on a number of fronts."

There does not appear to be much precedent for major underwater molasses spills, though 21 people were killed in Boston in 1919 when a tank ruptured and sent 2 million gallons of the stuff roaring through city streets.


Got me interested in what this Boston spill was:
The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. A large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and for many decades residents claimed that on hot summer days, the area still smelled of molasses.

The disaster occurred at the Purity Distilling Company facility on January 15, 1919. The temperature had risen above 40˚ F (4.4˚ C), climbing rapidly from the frigid temperatures of the preceding days.[2]:99; 95 At the time, molasses was the standard sweetener in the United States.

Molasses can also be fermented to produce rum and ethanol, the active ingredient in other alcoholic beverages and a key component in the manufacturing of munitions.[2]:11 The stored molasses was awaiting transfer to the Purity plant situated between Willow Street and what is now named Evereteze Way, in Cambridge.
Modern downtown Boston with molasses flood area circled

At about 12:30 in the afternoon near Keany Square,[3] at 529 Commercial Street, a molasses tank 50 ft (15 m) tall, 90 ft (27 m) in diameter and containing as much as 2,300,000 US gal (8,700 m3) collapsed. Witnesses stated that as it collapsed, there was a loud rumbling sound, like a machine gun as the rivets shot out of the tank, and that the ground shook as if a train were passing by.[4]

The collapse unleashed a wave of molasses between 8 and 15 ft (2.5 and 4.5 m) high, moving at 35 mph (56 km/h), and exerting a pressure of 2 ton/ft² (200 kPa).[5] The molasses wave was of sufficient force to damage the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway's Atlantic Avenue structure and tip a railroad car momentarily off the tracks. Author Stephen Puleo describes how nearby buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed. Several blocks were flooded to a depth of 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm). Puleo quotes a Boston Post report:

Molasses, waist deep, covered the street and swirled and bubbled about the wreckage ... Here and there struggled a form—whether it was animal or human being was impossible to tell. Only an upheaval, a thrashing about in the sticky mass, showed where any life was ... Horses died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper. The more they struggled, the deeper in the mess they were ensnared. Human beings—men and women—suffered likewise.[2]:98

Damage to the Boston Elevated Railway due to the flood

The Boston Globe reported that people "were picked up by a rush of air and hurled many feet." Others had debris hurled at them from the rush of sweet-smelling air. A truck was picked up and hurled into Boston Harbor. Approximately 150 were injured; 21 people and several horses were killed—some were crushed and drowned by the molasses. The wounded included people, horses, and dogs; coughing fits became one of the most common ailments after the initial blast. In a 1983 article for Smithsonian, Edwards Park wrote of one child's experience:

... Anthony di Stasio, walking homeward with his sisters from the Michelangelo School, was picked up by the wave and carried, tumbling on its crest, almost as though he were surfing. Then he grounded and the molasses rolled him like a pebble as the wave diminished. He heard his mother call his name and couldn't answer, his throat was so clogged with the smothering goo. He passed out, then opened his eyes to find three of his four sisters staring at him.[1]

Detail of molasses flood area. 1. Purity Distilling molasses tank 2. Firehouse 31 (heavy damage) 3. Paving department and police station 4. Purity offices (flattened) 5. Copps Hill Terrace 6. Boston Gas Light building (damaged) 7. Purity warehouse (mostly intact) 8. Residential area (site of flattened Clougherty house)

First to the scene were 116 cadets under the direction of Lieutenant Commander H. J. Copeland from USS Nantucket, a training ship of the Massachusetts Nautical School (which is now the Massachusetts Maritime Academy), that was docked nearby at the playground pier.[3] They ran several blocks toward the accident. They worked to keep the curious from getting in the way of the rescuers while others entered into the knee-deep sticky mess to pull out the survivors. Soon the Boston Police, Red Cross, Army and other Navy personnel arrived. Some nurses from the Red Cross dove into the molasses, while others tended to the wounded, keeping them warm as well as keeping the exhausted workers fed.[citation needed] Many of these people worked through the night. The injured were so numerous that doctors and surgeons set up a makeshift hospital in a nearby building. Rescuers found it difficult to make their way through the syrup to help the victims. It took four days before they stopped searching for victims; many of the dead were so glazed over in molasses, they were hard to recognize.

Name Age Occupation
Patrick Breen 44 Laborer (North End Paving Yard)
William Brogan 61 Teamster
Bridget Clougherty 65 Homemaker
Stephen Clougherty 34 Unemployed
John Callahan 43 Paver (North End Paving Yard)
Maria Di Stasio 10 Child
William Duffy 58 Laborer (North End Paving Yard)
Peter Francis 64 Blacksmith (North End Paving Yard)
Flaminio Gallerani 37 Driver
Pasquale Iantosca 10 Child
James H. Kinneally Unknown Laborer (North End Paving Yard)
Eric Laird 17 Teamster
George Layhe 38 Firefighter (Engine 31)
James Lennon 64 Teamster/Motorman
Ralph Martin 21 Driver
James McMullen 46 Foreman, Bay State Express
Cesar Nicolo 32 Expressman
Thomas Noonan 43 Longshoreman
Peter Shaughnessy 18 Teamster
John M. Seiberlich 69 Blacksmith (North End Paving Yard)
Michael Sinnott 76 Messenger

More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Molasses_Disaster

Last edited by Th0r S1mpson; 09-12-13 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 09-12-13, 01:30 PM
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Re: The Great Molasses Spill of 2013

Can we make this thread a sticky? Oops, too late...
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Old 09-12-13, 07:54 PM
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Re: The Great Molasses Spill of 2013 (and whatever happened to young Pasquale Iantosc

Back in the 1970s, columnists at the Boston Globe said that you could still see the brown stains on the walls of buildings.

I'm doubting that Honolulu harbor has a very interesting ecosystem. If you took a core sample of the mud down there, it would probably be made of diesel fuel and asbestos.
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Old 09-12-13, 09:36 PM
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Re: The Great Molasses Spill of 2013 (and whatever happened to young Pasquale Iantosc

Well, now my damn BBQ sauce recipe just doubled in price.
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Old 09-16-13, 04:03 PM
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Re: The Great Molasses Spill of 2013 (and whatever happened to young Pasquale Iantosc

Nobody cares. Typical.
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Old 09-16-13, 04:26 PM
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Re: The Great Molasses Spill of 2013 (and whatever happened to young Pasquale Iantosc

Papa mole sticks his head out of the ground, sniff sniff, "I smell pancakes".
Mama mole sticks her head out of the ground, sniff sniff, "I smell pancakes too".
Baby mole sticks his head out of the ground, sniff sniff, "I smell molasses".
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