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Gov’t issues a reminder — “open burning activities are illegal”

A family in Ili’ili learned after Tropical Storm Gita moved away last Friday afternoon that all kinds of trees blocked their access road and the trees also took down power lines to their house. As of yesterday, the family still has no electricity but is very thankful that there were no injuries or deaths in the two Samoas.  [courtesy photo]
Health hazard is cited

As part of family clean ups around the island, following Tropical Storm Gita’s devastation, residents are burning debris — leaves, tree branches and other items — on their properties, with plumes of smoke drifting across the main highway from both sides, causing a driving hazard, as well as the possibility of a health hazard to those with breathing illnesses.

As a result, the government has issued a reminder that “open burning activities are illegal” under local regulations of the American Samoa Administrative Code (ASAC).

Residents burning trash as part of their cleanup began late Saturday afternoon once the storm moved further away, although the storm warning was issued until 11:35p.m.

Along the main road from the Nu’uuli area to Tafuna, smoke can be seen coming from nearby homes or those further inland. It was also the same in other villages on the western side of Tutuila. At daybreak yesterday, smoke from outdoor burning of trash started.

“There’s a lot of debris around our family houses and at this point the only option is burning the debris that can be burnt,” said a man, whose family was observed by Samoa News late Monday afternoon burning debris. “Can’t dump it elsewhere on our property or anywhere else.”

The same was echoed by other residents, who were seen Monday and Tuesday burning what they say is “trash”, while plastic and bottles were set aside for the American Samoa Power Authority’s trash collection.

Some residents say they have no problem with neighbors burning trash, as they need the clean up done. But at the same time, they are taking the precaution of making sure that young children don’t get close to areas where neighbors are burning their trash.

In its daily post-storm special bulletin, issued after 6p.m., Tuesday, the Emergency Operation Center reminded residents of local regulation (ASAC 24.0512 - Open Burning), which makes it illegal when it comes to “open burning activities.”

According to EOC, smoke and fumes from open burning activities may cause health issues especially for the elderly, infants/children and those with respiratory illnesses.

Residents are asked to place household trash — plastics, cans, bottles, Styrofoam, papers, carpet, rubber materials, etc. — in bins and trash cans for proper disposal.

“Tree leaves should be accumulated in a remote area on your property for composting which can later generate fertile soil for planting,” EOC said. “Tree branches can be used as fire wood for outdoor cooking purposes.”

According to the bulletin, you can report open burning activities to the EOC 699-3800 or AS-EPA 633-2304, 733-6149,

In its daily storm restoration update, ASPA said the Futiga Landfill is Open and “a designated area for all green waste has been secured.”

Asked for clarification on what is considered “green waste”, ASPA managing director Paul Young responded, “trees and plants only.”

ASPA also says that the Futiga Scrap Metal Yard is open for the public to dispose scrap metal wastes only; and Municipal Solid Waste Collectors (contractors) are continuing with their collections (for bins and containers), as per route schedule.

As of 6p.m. Tuesday, all ASPA Feeders — Primary lines — are energized except for areas where power poles and lines are down, according to ASPA, adding that a total of 8,400 out of 12,000 (70%) customers have power now.

For water service, ASPA says a total of 9,312 out of 9,600 (97%) customers have water now.