Am. Samoa Landfill Could Reach ‘Critical Mass’ in 2015

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Authorities considering strategies to reduce solid waste

By B. Chen

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Sept. 10, 2013) – Both the American Samoa Strategic Energy Plan (ASSEP) and the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) are looking at waste-to-energy strategies to reduce the amount of solid waste buried on island. In particular, the Futiga Landfill is expected to reach critical capacity by 2015, and according to the American Samoa Strategic Energy Plan (ASSEP), "a waste-to-energy solution could mitigate the imminent crisis."

Samoa News has obtained a copy of the ASSEP, which will be forwarded to Governor Lolo M. Moliga for approval before the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) and the Territorial Energy office (TEO) carry out implementation.

According to the ASSEP, "the plan puts American Samoa at the forefront of progress, innovation, and change in the field of energy, while also making the most out of its own natural resources…"

The Futiga landfill is the only one on island, and the American Samoa Renewable Energy Committee (ASREC) has determined that the Strategic Energy Plan should be deployed to preemptively address the crisis and assist the government in finding a solution.

The Futiga Landfill accumulates approximately 70 tons of solid waste landfill daily.

The ASSEP notes, "there are several technologies existing today that can assist with this problem. A waste to energy plant, that also embraces recycling, needs to be at the forefront of this very serious problem. The Strategic Plan strongly encourages an approach that recognizes the environmental impact of hazardous refuse reduction methods."

Furthermore, "the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be included in all discussions to develop plans that deal with the landfill reduction," the report says.

Territorial Energy Office representative Tim Jones said that initially, the most effective and fastest strategy to implement is to recycle usable materials before they go into the landfill.

The ASSEP points out that funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) initiated a recycling project with GHC Reid and Co. Ltd., which is scheduled to begin by September 30, 2013.

Addressing the issue involving the Futiga Landfill "is one of the most important things we could do for American Samoa right now," Jones said over a telephone interview with Samoa News yesterday.

According to the ASSEP, "While recycling is a very effective program to reduce what goes into the landfill, it only buys time as the landfill will still continue to grow. Reduction of the landfill will require a waste-to-energy strategy."

The report points out that large landfills in the USA often use methane gas recovery. "While this is a waste-to-energy strategy, it is not a reduction strategy that is recommended for the Futiga landfill," the report states.

The ASSEP points to gasification, which is a new technology that offers the ability to reduce landfill refuse safely and effectively without harmful emissions. "New developments in the field of waste-to-energy allow for further breakdown of solid waste and landfill refuse into usable products, such as liquefied materials compatible with diesel, and carbon which can be used locally or exported for sale."

As noted in the report, "Biomass, Gasification, Anaerobic Digestion and Waste-to-Energy Strategies" are as follows:

By putting forth the ASSEP, "American Samoa is pursuing a path of sustainability that will ensure that the needs of the present are met without sacrificing the needs of future generations. This path will also lead to economic security through stable energy pricing and reliable electricity production."


When contacted for comments, ASPA Executive Director Utu Abe Malae explained that a Request for Proposals (RFP) is currently being advertised and will close later this month.

"The proposal is for a Waste to Energy project which is distinct from the metals recycling program," Utu wrote in an email correspondence to Samoa News yesterday. "We are looking at proven technologies that can use solid waste as feed stock for a small power plant, or the manufacturing of valuable products or by-products."

Utu explained that "the objective is to reduce the amount of solid waste that is buried at the landfill in Futiga or anywhere else in American Samoa," adding there is only a small amount of land on small islands.

In the meantime, the ASPA executive director reports they have shipped almost all of the scrap metal from the Manu'a Islands to Tutuila. "The metal is being chopped up and baled and shipped to New Zealand en route to China where it is being recycled."

After review by the governor, the ASSEP draft will be sent to the National Renewable Energy Lab which was contracted by the Department of Interior to work with the American Samoa Renewable Energy Committee (ASREC).

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