ASG airport corrective action plan includes firefighting training center, scrap metal site

fili@samoanews.com

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has accepted American Samoa Government’s corrective action plan pertaining to the use of the multi-million dollar federally funded Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Training Center as well as the scrap metal storage site at the Pago Pago International Airport.

The ARFF and the former scrap metal site, which was overseen by the American Samoa Power Authority, were the other two issues that the FAA cited in its land use audit of the Tafuna airport report released two years ago.

Other issues covered in the audit report dealt with 325 acres of airport land used for other purposes, market value of airport land and relocation of the jet fuel tanks.

ASG submitted its corrective action plan this year and in a May 3rd letter, Ron V. Simpson manager of the FAA Honolulu Airports District Office informed Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele that FAA agreed to it. Additionally, the FAA is monitoring the implementation of the plan. (See yesterday’s story for details)

ARFF CENTER

In its audit report, FAA found the ARFF regional training center, which is a state-of-the-art facility, constructed with FAA grant funding of more than $10 million and was completed a few years ago, has remained “idle and underutilized”.

According to the audit report, the facility was aimed to serve two purposes — the first is to provide airport firefighters with a means “to maintain the skills and qualifications” required by federal regulations; and, it was built to make training easier and cheaper by eliminating the travel time and cost to go off island to obtain federally required training.

“As a regional training center, it was intended to attract other Pacific islands firefighting agencies to American Samoa,” according to the FAA. “This important objective has not been realized.”

ASG, in its correction plan, says that since 2014, the territorial government has spent approximately $500,000 to rehabilitate the facility. Additionally, ASG is working with the American Samoa Petroleum Cooperative to sponsor the annual oil spill drill, which would include training at the ARFF center in May this year. Further, the airport plans to offer continuous training activities beginning August this year.

In response, Simpson informed Taimalelagi said the FAA has determined the proposed corrective action acceptable.

Taimalelagi said in a Samoa News interview early this year that since the “hot fire training facility was not utilized or maintained professionally since 2009, we addressed this immediately in 2013. Our goal is to offer professional training for all firemen in American Samoa.” And, it will include firemen from local entities such as the DPS fire bureau, Emergency Medical Service, Coast Guard, the canneries, the National Park of American Samoa etc.

Samoa News notes the Lolo Administration took office in January 2013.

SCRAP METAL YARD

The FAA found that the former scrap metal site is not yet ready for development. And although scrap materials have been removed from the airport, a site of assessment has not yet been made to determine whether or not it contains any hazardous materials and is in need of remediation.

According to the FAA, this should be done as soon as possible so the property can be declared safe for reuse. Thereafter, redevelopment for airport-related purposes will be possible which can provide a new income source to the airport.

For its corrective action, ASG provided the FAA a Mar. 23, 2011 letter from the US Environmental Protection Agency stating that the Superfund Hazardous Material Removal Action was completed on Mar. 4, 2011 at the scrap metal site.

The Action mitigated the imminent and substantial threats posed by the compressed gas cylinders. Additionally, the FAA says the letter further stated measurable amounts of some heavy metals were found in surface soils but not considered to post an imminent or substantial threat and no removal was conducted.

Simpson informed Taimalelagi that prior to development of site, an environmental site assessment must be conducted to determine if any subsurface remedial work is required.

“Subject to an environmental site assessment prior to development of the property, the FAA has determined the proposed corrective action acceptable,” he said.

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