Petition opposing site for cold storage picks up steam
While a petition opposing the Fagatogo main port area site for the StarKist cold storage facility has been circulating since Tuesday, by a group calling themselves, “Committee in Defense of the Main Dock in American Samoa”, StarKist Co. president and chief executive officer In-Soo Cho has responded to local criticism over the company’s plan to build on the 42,000 square foot parcel of government land that lies directly between the Port Administration building and the inter island dock.
Cho reiterated his previous statements including those made last month when the company’s board of directors met here, saying that StarKist is committed to its American Samoa operations.
“Because building a cold storage facility is a critical part of this commitment, StarKist has allocated its own capital funds to the project and is eager to move forward in order to enable expanded production and to continue to improve American Samoa competitiveness,” Cho said in a statement yesterday.
Working closely with ASG, the company’s business partners, and engineering companies, “we jointly came to the conclusion that the port land is the best alternative for cold storage construction,” he said, adding that a signing of the memorandum of understanding early last month with ASG confirmed StarKist’s commitment.
Shipyard Services Authority board vice chair, David Robinson told Samoa News that the area next to the shipyard had been offered to StarKist for the cold facility and this was confirmed yesterday by Cho.
However, said Cho, “our thorough analysis ultimately showed that the space was capital prohibitive, lacked dock space, and would require too long a construction schedule.”
“We are confident that the port area is the best location available for direct unloading and storage.”
“Since it will be strictly cold storage, we believe that it will not interfere with other activities of the port, nor negatively impact the environment,” he points out. “Additionally, we will continue to work with all local stakeholders — EPA, port authorities, local community — to address any and all concerns that may arise with this project.”
Cho says he personally thanks American Samoa's leaders, ASG and the American Samoan community for their continued support of StarKist.
“I ask for your ongoing partnership in working to meet the challenges ahead in making American Samoa as competitive as possible — for the mutual benefit of StarKist and American Samoa,” he said.
While supportive of the new project, Robinson told Samoa News last month that “we are concerned that the location may not be the most suitable from an environmental perspective, it may not be a compatible activity located in an area where there are ever increasing numbers of tourists arriving on cruise ships, and there could be some transportation issues on the main road from the cannery to the cold store.”
Sen. Lualemaga Faoa agreed with Robinson, and the senator suggested locating the proposed facility in Atu’u, at the large government parcel of land around Tri Marine International, operator of the new Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., cannery.
The petition opposing the Fagatogo- port area site for the StarKist cold storage facility has been circulating since Tuesday, as reported in local media. (See Wednesday’s edition of Samoa News for a copy of the petition).
Samoa News understands the group wants to make the petition available to all clans, families, individuals, as well as businesses interested in opposing the Fagatogo- port area site.
For example, anAfoa/ Lutu family meeting was held yesterday afternoon regarding family matters — and while the petition was not a part of the family agenda, it was circulated and it was signed by most that were there, with several people taking petitions to gather more signatures.
The group’s contact number is 633-2208 for anyone who is interested in signing the petition, want a copy of the petition or has further questions. There is also a petition available to be signed at the Samoa News office, in Fagatogo, across from the Main Dock.
Rhonda Annesley contributed to this report.