Federal Government Stoppage Hinders Molasses Spill Inquiry

Sophie Cocke/ Civil Beat

Three weeks after a quarter million gallons of molasses spilled into Honolulu Harbor in what is likely the state's worst-ever marine environmental disaster, federal agencies involved in investigating the spill have essentially closed up shop.

“Because of the government shutdown, I will be out from October 1 until funding is restored,” says an outgoing message on the phone of Bill Keener, assistant public affairs director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9 office, which oversees Hawaii.

Reporters were greeted with similar recordings Tuesday from numerous officials at the EPA, which oversees the federal Clean Water Act, and from employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Both agencies have been investigating the spill and assisting with cleanup or restoration activities.

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