Gov: ASEPA exploring options for used oil and removal of hazardous waste
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) is exploring options to either reuse and/ or recycle used oil on island or dispose of it off island, says Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who added that the ASEPA has been working on plans to remove hazardous waste from the territory.
In his State of the Territory Comprehensive Report, Lolo explained that for many years, StarKist Samoa provided a solution for the disposal of used oil collected from the American Samoa Power Authority and Solar Environmental Service Inc., but unfortunately, this service is no longer available as StarKist would like to protect the integrity of its boilers.
In an effort to remove the accumulated used oil on island, Lolo said, the ASEPA organized and coordinated a used oil removal operation with assistance and support from various government entities and the private sector.
In order to satisfy US Coast Guard port requirements, the fuel tanker James Cook was identified as the only option for disposal at the time, and it discarded 133,082 gallons last September and another 56,285 gallons last November.
If not properly disposed, said Lolo, used oil presents an imminent threat to the territory’s water resource and more importantly, public health. Under the leadership of the Governor’s Office, “our collaborative approach to this waste management enables us to export the waste and reduce pollution and disaster risk,” Lolo said. ASEPA “will continue to explore with sustainable options to either reuse and/or recycle used oil on island, or dispose it off island.”
HAZARDOUS WASTE REMOVAL
Lolo explained that the accumulation of hazardous waste such as household, hospital and school laboratory waste has been a growing problem on island. “It’s an expensive waste stream that requires special handling and proper disposal due to its hazardous nature,” he said, and noted that the lack of adequate disposal facilities on island has made it very challenging for the proper removal and disposal of the waste.
In response to this “daunting task of hazardous waste removal”, Lolo said the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) granted ASEPA’s request for assistance and mobilized a team led by two on-scene-coordinators last August to conduct Phase I of removal operation, which consisted of an assessment, reconnaissance, and inventory of the accumulated hazardous waste.
Phase II is scheduled for April this year and coordinations are ongoing to charter a vessel to collect hazardous waste from the Manu’a islands. “The safety management of hazardous waste is paramount in order to protect human health and our groundwater resources,” the governor declared. “Hazardous waste and chemicals is a critical management area in our programs” …. and “we are fortunate to have US-EPA to provide this vital assistance.”