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EPA Removes Pesticides, Hazardous Waste in American Samoa as part of Tsunami Cleanup

Release Date: 01/20/2010
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(01/20/10) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is completing its removal of hazardous waste and pesticides collected as part of the cleanup efforts in American Samoa following the series of tsunamis that struck due to an earthquake on September 29.

EPA personnel were among some of the first response crews on scene with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in American Samoa following the earthquake and tsunamis. FEMA recently assigned EPA specific additional tasks, including accumulating and preparing for shipment and disposal hazardous waste and pesticides collected from households and those found as part of the ongoing cleanup effort.

Concurrently, EPA is conducting a $200,000 Superfund removal of pesticides and hazardous wastes not related to the tsunami disaster.

“Our work was focused on collecting and segregating household hazardous waste and pesticides, which are now ready for shipment to a disposal facility,” said Keith Takata, Superfund Division Director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “EPA worked closely with village and community leaders who were instrumental in getting this job done to protect American Samoa residents and their environment.”

In September, EPA On-Scene Coordinator Chris Reiner and contractor staff arrived on American Samoa and worked with personnel from American Samoa EPA, the Coast Guard, and the Hawaii National Guard Civil Support Team to collect and secure the hazardous wastes that were strewn about after the tsunamis. “We have since arranged for the packaging and shipment to treatment, recycling and disposal facilities on the mainland,” reports Reiner.

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