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Cleanup of Hawaii Oil Spill Expected to Take Three More Weeks

April 2, 1989

HONOLULU (AP) _ A cleanup crew has finished scrubbing oil from a 10-mile stretch of Molokai Island’s shoreline, but it will take at least three more weeks to clean Lanai Island beaches soiled by a mysterious spill, authorities said.

Coast Guard spokesman Keith Spangler said Sunday that a nine-member crew on Molokai would join the effort on Lanai, where the bulk of the bunker fuel oil has washed ashore.

The Coast Guard has yet to determine the exact size or source of the spill, but it appeared to be at least 10,000 gallons, Spangler said.

Far more oil has washed onto Lanai than soiled Oahu beaches when the tanker Exxon Houston ran aground March 2, according to Rusty Nall, vice president and general manager of Pacific Environmental Corp., contracted by the Coast Guard to perform the cleanup.

The spill has sullied 10 miles of Lanai’s northern coast with tar balls and small puddles, Nall said. The grounded Exxon Houston spilled 30,000 gallons of oil that polluted two miles of shoreline outside of Honolulu.

The latest spill was first spotted March 26 in the ocean between Lanai and Molokai, two of Hawaii’s most undeveloped islands.

Hoping to find the source of the spill, the Coast Guard has taken oil samples from five vessels in Hawaii, including the Exxon Houston, Spangler said. Lab tests are expected to be done in 45 days.

Spangler said it was unlikely that oil from the Exxon Houston could reach Lanai and Molokai, about 60 miles southeast of Oahu.

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