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Gov responds to criticism on location for freezer op

Gov. Togiola Tulafono used his weekend radio program to respond to complaints and criticism over the proposed location of the yet to be built cold storage facility, which is to be at the ASG land between the Port Administration building and the inter island dock.

Togiola suggested to critics to focus on the issue at hand — which is to help the local economy — adding that good constructive concerns provide fresh new ideas and opinions. Additionally, he said, complaints and concerns should be based on facts, not on rumors and incorrect information.

He reiterated that he gladly accepts criticism, which is the norm, but not criticism that is based on jealousy and bad feelings against the government, because that will not solve any problems, he says.

The goal for the government in helping StarKist is to ensure that the cannery remains here and prospers, with the end result, benefitting the government and the community, he said, and noted that some concerns raised through the media were the same issues that were thoroughly reviewed before making the final decision to enter into a memorandum of understanding with StarKist to move the project forward.

Among the concerns raised by Chamber of Commerce chairman David Robinson and Sen. Lualemaga Faoa is that the facility is located close to the museum, and this is an area where visitors disembark from cruise ships. They also felt that the facility being so close to a main road would contribute to traffic congestion.

These issues, including the environmental concerns, were reviewed and discussed with ASG officials and the legal team at the governor’s office, said Togiola, adding that StarKist also took these issues into consideration as they, too, want to make sure that there is no serious impact on the environment or surrounding areas.

Another criticism from Lualemaga centered on the smell of fish, which he said would linger in the town area. He suggested having the facility located at the Tri Marine International facility in Atu’u. Robinson said that an area around the Ronald Reagan Marine Railway shipyard had previously been offered to StarKist.

On his radio program, Togiola said that when the StarKist freezer facility was previously located in Satala, closer to residential homes, there were never any complaints.

He said the proposed facility is not even set up yet but complaints are already being made, and asked the community to give this project time to develop before criticisms are voiced.

He said the government needs to provide full support for StarKist to ensure they remain in the territory providing jobs and economic benefits. He said there are other countries interested in attracting this cannery and countries continue to seek out Starkist. He recommends that critics look to the future of the territory.