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Faipule calls for report on $2.6 mil fine for StarKist Samoa violations

Rep. Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Rep. Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi is requesting a report from the new administration regarding the use of the $2.6 million from StarKist Samoa violations of the American Samoa Environment Quality Act and its implementing regulations.

Vailiuama said that based on the information the Fono, along with members of the Fagatogo village council received from the previous administration — part of the money will be used to build a new Malaloa wharf. However, Vailiuama sadly announced that the past administration is gone and only two metal posts are in place at the Malaloa wharf.

“Where is the promise by the previous administration to build a new Malaloa wharf?” Vailiuama asked, adding that “if the two posts that are already built at the Malaeloa wharf are the only work that was funded from this funding, so the question is, where is the rest of the funding?”

Aside from the $2.6 million, Vailiuama is also questioning the $10k the previous administration promised to donate to several villages that enforced regulations for COVID-19 including his village of Fagatogo. According to Vailiuama, his village never received such funding.

He’s requesting a hearing with representatives from the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA) and the Governor’s office to explain the issues to faipule.

The StarKist multi-million dollar penalty is from the cannery allegedly violating environmental laws in American Samoa. Under the court ruling, in March of 2018, the company is not required to admit any liability but it is required to take action to ensure it complies with federal and local environmental laws.

The company is to pay $US6.5 million in a civil penalty, with $US2.6 million going to American Samoa and the balance to the federal government. In addition, the company is to provide $88,000 in emergency equipment for local first responders for chemical spills.