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Thursday night power outage at airport investigated

Backup generator did not kick in immediately
reporters@samoanews.com

Conflicting stories were told yesterday morning during the House regular session about who was at fault for the power outages that occurred at the Tafuna International Airport last week Thursday, minutes before the Hawaiian Air flight from Honolulu was supposed to land.

The issue was first raised last Friday in the House of Representatives by Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen who provided his colleagues with the exact time the airport lost power and the time the power came back on. The longest outage lasted about 10 minutes.

Faimealelei said the incident is cause for great concern, as the safety and well being of the people both in the air and on land was compromised. He said he wanted to know why the airport maintenance crew was not on hand to operate the emergency back up generator. The Aua faipule requested the appropriate House committee(s) to look into the incident so future occurrences can be prevented.

During yesterday's regular session, Chairman of the House Committee on Port Administration and Transportation, Rep. Talaimatai Elisara Su'a said he spoke to airport officials who assured him that the airport staff carried out their duties and questions about the outages should be referred to ASPA.

However, Chairman of the House Committee on ASPA Rep. Puletuimalo Koko had a different story, saying he spoke to ASPA officials who told him that while the power outages did occur, those who are in charge of the emergency switches at the airport should be questioned.

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale said this is a very important issue and the two House committees should collaborate and work together to get to the root of the problem. Savali said it is best to set a date for when the proper officials from both the Airport and ASPA can appear together before the House to answer questions regarding the incident.

Meanwhile airport manager David Fuimaono told local media representatives that when power outages occur, the airport generator should come on line right away. However, this was not the case on the night in question and an explanation is being sought from the contractor, Hawthorne.

ASPA CEO Utu Abe Malae was quoted as saying that the outage was caused by a fruit bat and power was cut off for the feeder that supplies the airport and surrounding areas. He said ASPA crews are working with the airport maintenance crew to determine why the back up generator at the airport failed to kick in automatically, as it should have.



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