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State tests black goo from Mahaulepu

September 9, 2017

MAHAULEPU — The state should know what is infiltrating the tidepools on the eastern side of Mahaulepu Beach in the next couple of weeks.

According to the state Department of Health, samples of the black goo were taken on Sept. 5, and shipped out for laboratory testing.

Volunteers with the Kauai Surfrider Foundation reported the substance Aug. 17, and DOH did not issue any restrictions or warnings in connection to the goo.

The volunteers say it looks like bunker fuel from passing container and cruise ships.

“It is dirtier than coal, it pollutes the air and the water, and it is the cheapest, dirtiest fuel there is,” said Gordon LaBedz, of Kauai Surfrider Foundation, last month when the goo was discovered. “It is the fuel that the container ships and the cruise ships use instead of diesel.”

DOH confirmed Aug. 31 to TGI that observations indicate the goo is a petroleum substance that washed ashore and onto the rocks.

Carl Berg, of Kauai’s chapter of Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force, said it has taken a long time for DOH to investigate the substance, and questions how the department came to the conclusion it wasn’t harming the environment.

“Is it affecting the edible limu there?” he asked.

It had stabilized in the splash zone at that time, and wasn’t affecting fish or other wildlife nearby, according to DOH.

In partnership with clean-up company Pacific Environmental Corporation, DOH plans to identify the nature of the substance in the laboratory, then determine how to handle the removal, according to Terry Corpus, DOH’s environmental health specialist and state on-scene coordinator in the DOH Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office.