Am. Samoa Department Of Health Closes Office At Port

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Customs given 2 weeks to clean out rodent infestation

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Oct. 15, 2015) – The pier section of the Port was closed down Tuesday morning by the Department of Health.

DOH’s Chief Enforcement Officer Papali’i Marion Fitisemanu explained that no citations were issued; however, employees have been given two weeks to clean and sanitize the area.

The closure came as news to Port Director, Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele, who said she was verbally informed at 9 p.m that the Port Pier section was closed. "I have not received a written citation as to why. Until we receive a written citation our Pier Section will continue to operate at the front gate of the Port Wharf," she told Samoa News.

According to Papali’i, his crew conducted a site visit and found rodents on the first floor of the Port Administration building, which houses the Customs Division of the Treasury Department.

He said this poses a health risk not only to the employees, but also members of the public who conduct business in that area of the building.

According to Papali’i, no citation was issued but instead, Customs agents were given certain conditions that need to be met.

DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua told Samoa News that Customs Agents have agreed that the building needs to be cleaned and sanitized, and with the conditions given to them, they will have no choice but to comply, as it’s a win-win situation.

Responding to Samoa News questions, the Port Director said that the only person who is authorized to close the Pago Pago Port (wharf) is the Governor or someone from the federal level, the U.S Coast Guard and "As of Wednesday, October 14, 2015 the Pago Pago Port is open for business."

She pointed out that she did meet with Public Health official, Papalii on Tuesday during which she was informed they were going to inspect the Customs, Agriculture, other ASG offices and the warehouse on the first level of the building.

"It was reported rodents were in the warehouse. He inspected our second level offices which are in excellent condition. I did not receive the exit or outcome report," Taimalelagi said. "The Pago Pago Port is a multi-million-dollar operation and we will not close our operations because of a citation from Public Health.

"SAFETY is of high priority on the Port wharf and in the harbor. We recognize this and maintain a set of security standards that are in alignment with the MTSA, Maritime Transportation Security Act. If Public Health has identified issues that are detrimental to the health of the employees on the wharf or the general welfare of the people in the territory, we will rectify the problem," she concluded.

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