Afoa heads petition to stop cold storage on dock
More than 600 local residents have signed a petition opposing the government and StarKist Samoa’s plans to build a cold storage facility on ASG land between the Port Administration building and the inter island dock.
The petition was submitted with a cover letter dated yesterday from Afoa L. Su’esu’e Lutu to Brett Butler, the StarKist Samoa general manager with copies to Gov. Togiola Tulafono, Fono members, and Lydia Faleafine-Nomura, the local field representative for the U.S. Interior Department.
“We are in full support of StarKist Samoa and we sincerely appreciate the contribution by StarKist Samoa to the American Samoa economy,” says the petition, which is addressed to Butler with copies to the governor, Congressman Faleomavaega Eni and Faleafine-Nomura. The signers of the petition also state that they fully support all efforts — including the construction of a cold storage — to expand StarKist’s operations as that will mean more jobs for American Samoa.
“However, we do not support having a cold storage built in Fagatogo on the main dock,” it says. “We believe that all industrial activities should be kept on your side of the bay where it is already an industrialized area or at the industrial park in Tafuna,” the petition states.
“We prefer to keep the main dock area and the rest of the bay free of any additional odors, fumes and/or heavy traffic,” it says, adding that StarKist has other options to build the facility.
In his letter to Butler, Afoa says that the petition is signed by numerous residents of Fagatogo, Utulei and others in the territory and petitions with signatures will be submitted to Butler once they are collected. Afoa hopes Butler will relay this information to StarKist headquarters as well as its owner Dongwon Industry in South Korea.
(Signatories of the petition also provided their villages such as Vatia, Pago Pago, Leone, Tafuna, Fagasa, Nu’uuli, Futiga, Matu’u, Fagaalu, Aua and Taputimu.)
While appreciative and thankful for the many blessings that the territory has received because of StarKist, “I — along with many others — cannot agree to the idea of having a cold storage in my village of Fagatogo when StarKist has other alternatives for a location,” Afoa said in recalling his conversation with StarKist Samoa official Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona.
“I believe that...Taeaoafua, being a member of the Territorial Planning Commission, can probably share with you and StarKist the vision and plans to develop our harbor area, and turning the entire harbor area into an industrialized area was not included in that plan,” Afoa noted.
(Samoa News understands that Taeaoafua is no longer a member of the Territorial Planning Commission.)
“Historically, while StarKist Samoa has always maintained a priority to maximize its profits for its shareholders, StarKist Samoa has always had a unique love for American Samoa and has genuinely cared for her people,” he said. “Thus, I know that our plea is not in vain, and I thank you for the opportunity to be heard and considered.”
Also provided to Butler is Afoa’s Jan. 18 letter to the governor opposing the site for the freezer facility.
StarKist Co. president and chief executive officer In-Soo Cho said in a statement two weeks ago that the port land is the best alternative for cold storage construction and since it will be strictly cold storage, “we believe that it will not interfere with other activities of the port, nor negatively impact the environment.”
Samoa News understands that more signatures are still being collected for this petition and will be submitted next week to Butler, and the group anticipates the same amount of signatures or more. The petition organization also notes that while Cho’s statement says that it ‘will be strictly cold storage’, they believe that StarKist wants to unload from vessels directly to the cold storage facility — otherwise, why would they insist on a dock site?
To view Afoa’s letter to the governor, see Samoa News edition of Jan. 20.
To see full details of StarKist statement by StarKist Co. president and CEO, see Samoa News edition of Jan. 19.
Samoa News first published the story of the MOU agreement between the governor and StarKist to lease the ASG land located in Fagatogo, Port Administration in its Dec. 13, 2011 edition.