Health officials identify source of fish-killing chemical spill

Local News

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the source of the spill as identified by the state Department of Health.

The state Department of Health has identified the source of a chemical spill that led to a large fish kill in Pearl City.

The spill was discovered last week at a drainage ditch near the bike path on Hekaha Street, killing more than 600 fish, including tilapia and guppies.

Health officials said Monday that the spill came from a nearby business called MOC Hawaii.

The company reported that one week earlier, on Monday, May 11, it accidentally spilled about 70 gallons of an industrial cleaner into a storm drain inlet that drains to the ditch.

The following day, on Tuesday, May 12, the department’s Clean Water Branch received a report of a fish kill and milky-white discolored water with a strong “cleaning agent” like scent lingering in the area.

Staff conducted an on-site inspection and took water samples for testing. Results indicated lower than normal PH levels in the water and warning signs were posted over the weekend.

KHON2 went back to the area Saturday and came across witnesses who saw what led to the spill.

Dawson von Oelhoffen of Progressive Auto Sounds, another business in the area, said “I seen, a couple shops down, they ended up dropping two big containers of who-knows-what that toppled off of a forklift.”

The incident also drew the attention of another man, Tony Tadeo, who also works nearby at Mat-Co Motoring Accessories.

“There’s a drain on the other end, so they tried to drain it (there),” he said.

Health officials said water samples taken Monday showed PH levels in the water returned to normal. The spill did not spread to adjacent waterways.

The department will continue to investigate the spill and determine any further enforcement action. MOC Hawaii is cooperating with the department’s investigation, officials said.

Clean water violations may carry penalties of up to $25,000 per day per violation.

During the department’s investigation, the U.S. Navy, which owns the ditch, was notified.

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