American Samoa joins United States settlement with Starkist
PAGO PAGO, AS – The Territory of American Samoa is officially a co-plaintiff in the United States’ lawsuit against StarKist Co. and Starkist Samoa Co. for alleged violations of environmental laws at Starkist’s tuna processing and canning facility in Atu'u, American Samoa.
On December 22, 2017, the United States lodged an amended complaint with the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, adding the Territory as a co-plaintiff. The amended complaint includes the Territory’s claim for violations of the American Samoa Environmental Quality Act and its implementing regulations, based on the same facts underlying the United States’ claim for relief. The amended complaint also alleges three new violations of the federal Clean Water Act by Starkist.
Along with the amended complaint, the United States simultaneously lodged a proposed consent decree, signed by the United States, the Territory, and Starkist, which resolves the alleged violations. Under the proposed consent decree, Starkist will pay a total civil penalty of $6.5 million and provide emergency response equipment to the American Samoa Department of Public Safety, Fire Services Bureau. For the civil penalty, Starkist will pay $3,900,000 to the United States and $2,600,000 to the Territory. Starkist will also perform major facility upgrades and other environmental compliance measures. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will partner with the American Samoa EPA to oversee Starkist’s compliance efforts.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed consent decree is available on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html. A summary of the settlement, translated into the Samoan language, will also be available on the DOJ web site.