EPA fines Starkist for another environmental violation in American Samoa

By

Bernadette Carreon

Published on
April 17, 2019

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined StarKist and its subsidiary, Starkist Samoa Co., USD 84,500 (EUR 74,800) for failing to institute the required upgrades needed to reduce water pollution and the risk of releases of hazardous substances coming from its tuna processing facility in American Samoa.

Starkist Samoa Co. owns and operates the tuna processing facility in Tutuila, American Samoa. The American Samoa facility processes and cans tuna for human consumption and processes fish byproducts into fishmeal and fish oil. Starkist Samoa Co. is a subsidiary of StarKist Co., which is owned by South Korean conglomerate Dongwon Industries, one of the world’s largest suppliers of canned tuna. 

In a new release on Monday, 15 April, the EPA said Starkist violated the terms of a 2018 settlement where it agreed to comply with environmental laws. The company, despite the settlement, continued to discharge wastewater into the Pago Pago harbor from its facility, the EPA said.

According to the 2018 settlement, StarKist agreed to pay a USD 6.5 million (EUR 5.8 million) penalty to resolve violations of federal environmental laws. Under the settlement, Starkist was ordered to reduce water pollution and the risk of releases of hazardous substances and provide American Samoa with USD 88,000 (EUR 77,900) worth of emergency equipment for responding to chemical releases. The 2018 settlement also required StarKist to pay USD 200,000 (EUR 177,000) to address alleged Clean Water Act violations found before the original consent decree was finalized by the court. 

The American Samoa government has also been a co-plaintiff in the revised action, “formalizing its role as a partner in the implementation of the settlement.”

Starkist was to pay American Samoa USD 2.6 million (EUR 2.3 million) and USD 3.9 million (EUR 3.5 million) to the United States.

The company was planning to expand its operation in American Samoa, Joseph Pereira, the spokesperson for American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga told SeafoodSource in an email. Pereira said Moliga was informed of company's intention to shrink or close its California canning operation and relocate additional production and jobs to the island.

However, to expand its American Samoa facility, the company requires an amendment to its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. 

“With the anticipated expansion in production consequential to the relocation of the California production facilities, increase waste will result. Accordingly. StarKist requested USEPA consideration of this expected increase in waste as articulated in its application,” Pereira said.

While Moliga supports the move “given significant economic and social implications on the territory economy and the lives of the people,” the amendment has not yet been granted, Pereira said. He said the implementation date has been delayed “until StarKist resolves some of its operating issues and challenges.”

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