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EPA helps American Samoa remove old ammonia and freon gas cylinders

Release Date: 4/12/2004
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

HONOLULU The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently assisted the American Samoa government with removing and disposing of old ammonia and freon gas cylinders temporarily stored at a warehouse in Lauli'i Village; and solvents and cleaners stored in a garage in Pago Pago.

The American Samoa government requested assistance from the EPA with two removal projects:

-Work crews removed 16 cylinders of ammonia, 14 cylinders with unknown contents, believed to contain ammonia, 13 freon cylinders and 3 five gallon
containers of sulfuric acid. The stored chemical cylinders, and wastes were outdated or unused, with many of the original chemical cylinders deteriorating.
Many of the cylinders may have been discarded by shipping agents that stop in Pago Pago Harbor.

-The second removal project filled a 20 foot shipping container with old solvents and cleaners that had been discarded at a residential garage in
Pago Pago, many of the containers were deteriorating at the site.

"The EPA and the American Samoa government want people to know that American Samoa will not be used as a dumping ground by anyone stopping in Pago Pago Harbor," said Christopher Weden, the EPA's on-scene coordinator for the removal. "Many of the cylinders were severely deteriorated and the valves were too rusted to risk opening outside of a controlled environment. Lauli'i Village was not the place due to the risk of leaks and the potential to cause a larger environmental and public health problem."

Weden supervised the transport of the cylinders to a remote location near the airport on Tutuilla. A team of experts -- including the EPA's Environmental Response Team from Las Vegas -- then neutralized the contents of the anhydrous ammonia cylinders. The EPA coordinated its efforts with the American Samoa government, including the Territorial Office of Homeland Security, the Territorial Emergency Management Coordination Office, and the American Samoa EPA

The removals also enabled hazardous material technicians from American Samoa's fire department to obtain valuable on-the-job training as they assisted the EPA's team of experts. The EPA's Superfund program paid for both removals, at an estimated cost of approximately $100,000.

"American Samoa's government can always ask us for assistance in situations such as this that may need specialized help or technical expertise," said John McCarroll, manager of EPA Pacific Southwest Region's Pacific Islands Office.