StarKist to pay USD 6.3 million fine for polluting bay in American Samoa
StarKist Co. and its subsidiary, Starkist Samoa Co., agreed to pay a USD 6.3 million (EUR 5.3 million) penalty to settle violations of dumping wastewater into a harbor and improperly storing chemicals at its facility in American Samoa.
In the settlement with the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Starkist, a subsidiary of the Dongwon Group, agreed make a series of upgrades to reduce pollution, improve safety measures, and comply with federal environmental laws at its tuna processing facility. Starkist will also provide emergency response equipment to the American Samoa Department of Public Safety, Fire Services Bureau, for use in responding to chemical releases.
“It was identified that certain systems did not meet today's environmental compliance regulations and StarKist worked collaboratively with the EPA to make changes to the facility and its compliance measures,” StarKist said in a press statement. A StarKist spokesperson told SeafoodSource that the company does not have “any additional comments at this time.”
However, in the statement, StarKist said it agreed to install interim measures equipment and will invest significant capital “to address plant and monitoring upgrades.”
"Our company is committed to investing in the technology and equipment needed to address compliance issues at the StarKist Samoa plant. While this process is long-term in nature, we will continue to work closely with the EPA as we focus on these improvements until we meet and exceed compliance and environmental performance laws and standards,” StarKist President and CEO Andrew Choe said.
The settlement will “help prevent hazardous releases at the StarKist facility, protect workers and the local community, and reduce pollution discharged into Pago Pago Harbor by more than 13 million pounds each year,” said Acting Regional Administrator Alexis Strauss with the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region.
In July, 2014, the EPA discovered a discharge pipeline break at StarKist’s tuna plant, which was spilling unpermitted wastewater into the inner Pago Pago Harbor.
“At that time, EPA began investigating the facility after monitoring reports submitted by StarKist revealed wastewater pollutant levels that consistently exceeded permitted levels. EPA’s investigations revealed that StarKist had changed the composition of the facility’s discharged wastewater such that its existing wastewater treatment system was inadequate,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
In addition to wastewater violations, EPA also found StarKist was improperly storing ammonia, butane, and chlorine gas.
In addition to facility improvements, StarKist offered a training session in American Samoa with the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) in July, and has met with the American Samoa Department of Homeland Security (AS DHS), the Territorial Emergency Management Coordinating Office (TMCO), Local Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team, and other first responders.
“These forums have allowed StarKist to identify emergency response equipment needs within the territory,” the company said. “As a result, StarKist will purchase 12 protective suits and 12 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units to support American Samoa's emergency response efforts.”