Community News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

POSSIBLE CAUSE OF PURSE SEINER VESSEL FIRE REVEALED —

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined the possible cause of last year's fire onboard a US flagged purse seiner not far from American Samoa.

No one was injured in the fire, which caused between $500,000 to $1 million in damages, according to the NTSB’s 12-page summary report which notes that a fire broke out around 7a.m. local time on Feb. 10, 2016 on board the American Eagle, a commercial fishing vessel, whose port of registry is the Port of Pago Pago.

The fire broke out near several oxygen and acetylene cylinders stored below deck as the vessel was transiting the South Pacific Ocean, about 790 miles northeast of American Samoa.

Crewmembers attempted to fight the fire but were unable to extinguish it so they abandoned the American Eagle into its skiffs and life rafts, leaving the vessel adrift without electrical power.

The crew activated the emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), prompting the launch of the US Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Hawaii, while another fishing vessel, the Fong Seong 888 — which was about 5 hours away — was en route to provide assistance.

Several hours later, a few crewmembers re-boarded the vessel and extinguished the remnants of the fire, which didn’t cause any environmental damage. With assistance from an electrician aboard the Fong Seong 888, the American Eagle crew restarted an electrical generator and the main engine and the vessel proceeded under its own power to Pago Pago where it arrived, February 14.

According to the report, the “probable cause of the fire... was the ignition from an undetermined source of acetylene gas mixed with oxygen, most likely leaking from a degraded hose connected to cylinders stored in a working space below deck.

“Contributing to the severity of the fire were the numerous acetylene and oxygen cylinders improperly stowed near the fire, which provided additional fuel and oxygen to the fire,” and "the lack of a common language between all crew members, which hampered firefighting efforts.”

The effectiveness of training on board the American Eagle could not be directly assessed but the reports says, “investigators determined that it was likely insufficient, given the language barriers and the response to the fire.”

DHLS DIRECTOR SAYS PLANS ARE IN PLACE, IN CASE OF A MISSILE ATTACK

Department of Homeland Security director, Samana S. Veavea told faipule that if North Korea decides to launch a missile in the Pacific Region, American Samoa has less than 30 minutes to prepare; and in an event of nuclear detonation, the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will receive immediate notification and within two minutes, the local community will be alerted.

Samana appeared before a House committee last week with Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale, and LBJ Medical Center CEO, Faumuina John Faumuina.

Faipule have told government officials that threats by the North Korea leader to fire missiles in the Pacific is something ASG shouldn't take lightly, because if and when it happens, it will become a reality - not a joke.

Tualauta faipule, Rep. Samuel Ioka Ale Meleisea said this is one of the issues ASG should be discussing during the 2Samoa Talks later this year, to make sure the two Samoan governments will work together to protect its people.

Committee members wanted to know how far the missiles from North Korea will travel before hitting the Pacific, and whether ASG will be able to provide safety equipment - including protective masks, suits, and shelter - to protect people from radiation.

Samana explained that the distance between the territory and North Korea is over 5,500 miles, while the distance to Guam is 2,200 miles.

“We have a plan for the territory. There is also a special plan for all the government leaders. We know where to put the Governor and Lt. Gov. - even senators and representatives. Communication is very important for everyone,” Samana said.

Families are urged to make sure they have enough supplies of water and food at home for 2 weeks. They must also have items like batteries for the radio and a flashlight, in case the power is out.

ELLIS, LAUINA, NAMED STUDENT-ATHLETES OF THE MONTH   

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State Athletics is proud to announce Kayla Ellis and Fred Lauina have been named October Student-Athletes of the Month.

Ellis, a junior majoring in kinesiology, is the Beavers’ starting libero for the volleyball team. She leads the squad with 195 digs in 2017 and ranks sixth in the Pac-12 with 3.61 digs per set. Last weekend, the Pocatello, Idaho native registered a season-best 21 digs including the 1,000th dig of her career, becoming just the 14th player in OSU history to achieve the feat. She was a Pac-12 All-Academic selection in 2016.

Lauina, who is a senior majoring in sociology, has started on the Beaver football team’s offensive line throughout most of his career. A native of Nuuuli, American Samoa, Lauina has made 25 starts, second-most on the team, in his career at left guard and is currently the Beavers’ starting right tackle. He is a graduate of Tafuna High School.

Student-athletes are selected each month and are coordinated by the Academics for Student-Athletes staff. "Through the power of sport, we help people discover and pursue their passions, talents and purpose in order to live a life of balance and positive contribution."

LOLO SUBMITS PROPOSED LEGISLATION REGARDING TINTED WINDOWS

Gov. Lolo M. Moliga submitted to the Fono a proposed legislation amending A.S.C.A 22.1113, on the last day of the regular session of the Fono — last Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. The bill updates the territory’s tint law to increase the safety of the public, pedestrians, and police officers.

Tint law proposed amendment:

In a letter to Fono leaders, Lolo said the current law used to regulate tint in vehicles has not been updated since 1972. Since then, many new products used on the windows of vehicles have been released on the market.

Lolo said these products shield occupants from the sun, increase privacy in the vehicle, and even advertise. Along with these benefits come safety concerns as these products can obstruct the view of drivers and are a safety concern for police officers enforcing traffic laws.

Amendments to the current statute state that; (a) Except as provided in Subsections (b) and (c), a person may not operate a motor vehicle with: (1) a windshield that allows less than 70% light transmittance; (2) a front side window that allows less than 32% light transmittance; (3) back side window that allows less than 35% light transmittance; (4) rear window that allows less than 35%; (5) any windshield or window that is composed of, covered by, or treated with any material or component that presents a metallic or mirrored appearance; or (6) any sign, poster, or other nontransparent material on the windshield or side windows of the motor vehicle except a certificate or other paper required to be so displayed by law.

(b) Nontransparent materials may be used; (1) along the top edge of the windshield if the materials do not extend downward more that four inches from the top edge of the windshield or beyond the AS-1 line whichever is lowest; (2) on the rear window.

(c) A windshield or other window is considered to comply with the requirement of Subsection (1) if the windshield or other window meets the federals statutes and regulations for motor vehicle window comparison, covering, light transmittance, and treatment.

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