During the agency's 10th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri presented plaques to over two dozen organizations and individuals throughout the Pacific Southwest including one from American Samoa in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2007.

"The EPA is pleased and honored to acknowledge the innovative and far-reaching environmental work achieved by this impressive group of organizations and individuals. They set an example for all of us to follow," Nastri said. "All of this year's winners -- in fact, all of this year's nominees -- have made commendable efforts to protect and preserve our air, water and land or increased our awareness of the environmental challenges we face."

The Region 9 Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Twenty nine groups and individuals were selected from over 130 nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and citizen activists.

The Pacific Islands winner:

American Samoa EPA
Piggery Compliance Program, Pago Pago, AS

A significant percentage of American Samoan families raise pigs for, among other things, use in family and village celebrations, which often feature a roasted pig as a central part of the feast. As the population has grown, so have the number of pigs and the concern that pig waste contributes to pollution and disease. The common practice of locating a pig pen above or adjacent to a stream and washing pig waste into the stream has led to many cases of leptospirosis, a disease associated with the urine of pigs and other animals, which can infect people in contact with contaminated water. The American Samoa EPA created the Piggery Compliance Team to take action to reduce the piggery problem. Identifying over 1,000 families that owned piggeries, the team conducted outreach, educating families on how to comply with regulations, followed up with inspections, and where needed, compliance actions. By the end of 2007, its efforts resulted in the closure of 69 non-compliant piggeries, and helped 57 other pig owners comply. Nutrient loads to nearby waters were reduced by over 11,000 pounds of nitrogen and 4,000 pounds of phosphorous. One watershed saw a reduction in bacterial contamination by over 90 percent.