$1m claim referred to Attorney General

The $1million compensation claim by the village of Falealupo in relation to an alleged oil spill inside the village’s coast has been referred to the Office of the Attorney General.

This was confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I), Va’aelua Nofo Va’aelua, in response to a story titled "Probe finds no oil spill" published by the Samoa Observer on 17 December 2015.

According to the C.E.O, the $1m claim by Falealupo has been referred to the Office of the Attorney General for legal advice on the basis of the requirements of the Shipping Act 1998, in respect of wrecks and salvage operations.

The M.W.T.I chief disputed part of the story which said that "the government committee that conducted the investigation included a representative from the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as well as the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme".

The article went on to say that "the probe follows a compensation claim from Falealupo, due to an alleged oil spill and damages caused to the environment when an Apia Deep Sea Fishing vessel ran aground in the area".

Va'aelua said this needed to be corrected for the information of the public.

“The location of the wreck was declared a prohibited area well before Falealupo's $1m compensation claim was publicly made known,” the M.W.T.I’s statement reads.

“The same applies to the investigation to determine the cause of the ship wreck incident including the investigation of any oil spill, in accordance with the requirements of the Shipping Act 1998."

“The Committee of officials who carried out the preliminary investigations included representatives from M.W.T.I, Samoa Ports Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Local Agent and Representative of the wrecked Fishing Vessel.  S.P.R.E.P was not a member of the Committee.”

At the time, veteran Member of Parliament for Falealupo, Aeau Peniamina Leavaise’eta declined to comment. 

The boat, which allegedly caused the oil spill, ran aground in October when the Captain “misjudged the weather”, leading the boat to be stuck on a reef. 

There were about 12 crewmen on the vessel.

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