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Task Force created to combat illegal dumping

Source: NPAS media release

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Recently there has been an increase in illegal dumping in American Samoa. Illegal dumping of garbage, discarded appliances, old barrels, used tires, furniture, yard debris, oil, antifreeze and pesticides can threaten human health, farmlands, wildlife and the environment, pollute local waterways and groundwater, and can cause injury to children playing around the dumps. Tires retaining water become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other noxious insects. Some dumps become home to rats. Illegal dumps also detract from the beauty of the land and villages and are an embarrassment to all.

The National Park of American Samoa (NPAS) has reached out to villages that surround the park in order to work together to reduce this problem. The villages and the park have created a Task Force to work together on the problem of illegal dumping. The Task Force is made up of Pulenu’u and others from Fagasa, Pago Pago, Aua, Afono and Vatia, and representatives from the park along with other dignitaries and representatives of local agencies like ASPA, EPA, DOC and Samoan Affairs. They have started to meet regularly and formulate action plans to address the issue. The first clean up associated with this effort is planned for Friday in Afono.

“The problem of illegal dumping has been addressed by a number of villages and agencies here in American Samoa. All we hope to do is offer help, and demonstrate our commitment to the community,” said National Park Superintendent Scott Burch. “Through a combination of education, enforcement and monitoring, and clean ups of the current problem areas, this group hopes to find success in solving this problem one step at a time. This isn’t a park issue, it is a broader community issue, and we are only trying to help where we can.”

One illegal dump site is above a village water supply, one is uphill of a small family plantation and another is adjacent to a beach and coral reef. The activity of illegal dumping pollutes and threatens our cherished natural resources, including such basics as food and water. The increase in illegal dumping may be caused by a lack of convenient legal alternatives such as dumpsters, the convenience of illegal disposal sites, a lack of public awareness about the impacts of illegal dumping and a lack of community pride by a small group of people causing this problem for all.