30 Jun 2003

American Samoan company under investigation

10:24 am on 30 June 2003

An inspector for the United States Environmental Protection Agency has completed a criminal investigation into KS Mart Inc. over an ammonia leak, but findings have yet to be announced.

The investigation centres on whether or not the grocery store company intentionally released hazardous materials into the air during an ammonia leak last month that sent close to ten people to hospital, including three police officers.

The ammonia leak forced the evacuation of about 80 nearby residents and a spokesman for USEPA said if there is proof, the company and its owners face federal government criminal charges.

Gary Guerra of the criminal investigation division of the USEPA in San Francisco left last week after conducting a two-week investigation into the incident.

KS Mart was given an initial warning earlier this year by American Samoa officials, driecting the business to remove ammonia tanks from their property, citing the risk the tanks held to the health of people residing in the area.