U.S. EPA assists American Samoa with Hazardous Waste Removal

The American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA) announces the successful completion of a hazardous waste removal action by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) in American Samoa this week.

Hazardous waste is harmful to human health and the environment. It can be in the form of liquids, solids, or contained gases, and it is generated by many different facilities on-island. Due to the Territory’s limited resources and geographic isolation, hazardous waste removal is extremely challenging in American Samoa. In response to AS-EPA’s request for technical assistance, the US-EPA dispatched a team to the Territory in October 2016 to conduct an assessment.

This week, the US-EPA returned, led by Chris Reiner and Bret Moxley, federal on-scene coordinators for the Region 9 Emergency Response Program in San Francisco, California. They brought four US-EPA contractors who specialize in hazardous waste assessment, neutralization, transportation, and disposal. From AS-EPA, William Sili, Manager of the Air & Land Division, with Ignosy Toeava and Sikione Sikione of the Hazardous Materials Branch, provided on-scene support and planning.

The joint team organized the collection of hazardous waste from the Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center, American Samoa Community College Land Grant, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, and AS-EPA Laboratory. The waste included mercury, pesticides, and other harmful products that require special disposal. Materials were tested and segregated at a secured lot provided by the Office of Disaster Assistance and Petroleum Management (ODAPM). The hazardous waste was packed into a 20-foot shipping container that will depart the Territory in two weeks, for eventual disposal at a regulated facility off-island.

On behalf of Governor Lolo Moliga and the residents of American Samoa, AS-EPA Director Ameko Pato expresses his sincere gratitude to the US-EPA for providing this critical assistance to the Territory. The US-EPA has conducted similar hazardous waste removal actions for American Samoa over the years, including immediately after the devastating 2009 tsunami and recently in 2014. These important efforts help to eliminate danger to the public and the environment posed by improper hazardous waste disposal.

For more information on this project, or to report illegal disposal of hazardous wastes, please contact AS-EPA at 633-2304.