Operator at American Samoa Terminal fined for CWA violations

July 23, 2020
Pacific Energy to pay civil penalty for unauthorized wastewater discharges into Pago Pago Harbor

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have entered into a Consent Decree (CD) with Pacific Energy South West Pacific, Ltd. (Pacific Energy) related to that company’s violations of the Clean Water Act.

Under the CD, Pacific Energy will pay $300,000 in a civil penalty and will take action to protect Pago Pago Harbor by eliminating unauthorized wastewater discharges from the American Samoa Terminal. Pacific Energy also will take steps to return the terminal to compliance with Clean Water Act sampling and reporting requirements.

“Unauthorized discharges of pollutants into the Pago Pago Harbor are unacceptable,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We are pleased that Pacific Energy will be taking actions to ensure the protection of an important coastal water resource.”

Pacific Energy operates a major bulk fuel terminal in Pago Pago that stores large quantities of petroleum fuel for distribution on American Samoa. The terminal routinely generates industrial wastewater by draining water that has separated from the fuel in its tanks. This industrial wastewater is then commingled with stormwater and discharged to Pago Pago Harbor.

Under the Clean Water Act, the terminal is required to have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and meet the requirements of that permit. Pacific Energy had an NPDES permit from 2010 through 2015 but did not conduct regular wastewater sampling or meet the permit’s other requirements. Pacific Energy allowed its NPDES permit to expire in 2015 and then operated without a permit – in violation of the Clean Water Act and of a related 2016 EPA administrative order – until November 1, 2019, when its current NPDES permit became effective.

Due to the lack of sampling information, it is impossible to know the quantity of pollutants that was contained in wastewater generated at the terminal and discharged into Pago Pago Harbor. Pacific Energy’s unmonitored discharge of pollutants such as oil, grease and other toxic pollutants to Pago Pago Harbor may have damaged water quality and harmed the chemical, physical, and biological balance of the Harbor. Many Samoans fish and recreate in Pago Pago Harbor, which is home to important cultural and environmental resources, including nearly 200 species of coral.

The CD will be lodged in federal district court by the U.S. Department of Justice and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the CD will be available on the Department of Justice website at: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

For more information on EPA’s Industrial Wastewater program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/industrial-wastewater.


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