Guam – Port GM Joanne Brown is re-assuring union President Tim Fedenko that there have been no confirmed reports of “Black Widow” Spiders being found at the Port since the departure of the cargo ship “Green Ridge” a week ago Monday.
The GFT represents the Port stevedores. And earlier this week, Fedenko raised concerns about their safety in the wake of reports that “Black Widows” had been found dockside, after the “Green Ridge” left.
In her e-mailed response to the GFT President, Brown says there have been 2 reports from employees about “Black Widows” being found and those reports, along with the suspected spider, were forwarded to Guam Customs and the Department of Agriculture.
The first report was filed on Friday, May 9, and the second was filed Tuesday, May 13.
In both cases, Brown says, the Department of Agriculture’s Entomologist , Dr. Russell Campbell, has determined that the spiders he examined were orb weaver spiders commonly found on Guam and not black widow spiders.
“There is no evidence that has been verified of black widow spiders within the Port Yard”, states Brown in her email to Fedenko.
Brown also said that safety briefings have been provided to Port employees involved in the removal of cargo from the Green Ridge and all cargo was treated on the vessel, except for one container that was sealed due to the discovery of invasive snails.
READ Port GM Brown’s response to GFT President Fedenko below:
We certainly appreciate your concern for our employees at the Port. We share the very same concern. The Port has responded to every official notification from its employees concerning spiders since the recent visit of the Green Ridge. The Port provides this information to Customs & Quarantine and the Department of Agriculture for official determination and action.
The Port has received two reports since the departure of the Green Ridge that was forwarded through the appropriate channels. The first report was filed on Friday, May 9, 2014 and the second report was filed last evening on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. In both cases, Dr. Russell Campbell, Entomologist from the Department of Agriculture determined that the reported spiders were orb weaver spiders commonly found on Guam and not black widow spiders.
Every employee has official channels to raise their concerns. You allege that Port workers are “. . . currently still threatened by the infestation.” We have and will continue to respond to this with appropriate reporting information. I understand the concerns that our Port employees have, be they union members or non-union members, with regards to safety along with members of our community related to this recent incident with black widow spiders and any other invasive species entering Guam. If you have evidence with regards to these allegations, please provide it to the proper authorities so that action can be taken.
You relayed without reference that the Port has not provided notification or have safety procedures in place since the incident with the Green Ridge. Unfortunately, you have been misinformed. Safety briefings were provided to Port employees involved in the removal of cargo from the Green Ridge. All cargo was treated on the vessel except for one container that was sealed due to the discovery of invasive snails. This container was fumigated and further inspected by Customs prior to its release. Other than unknown allegations there is no evidence that has been verified of black widow spiders within the Port Yard. Certainly, if any employee comes across a possible concern, they need to immediately report this information to their supervisor who in turn will forward the information to the Port Safety Division, Port Police, Customs Biosecurity Division and the Department of Agriculture for appropriate action.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention.
READ GFT President Fedenko’s email to Port GM Brown below:
From: Tim Fedenko [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2014 12:15 PM
To: ‘Joanne Brown’
Subject: Safety of our Port Workers
I on behalf of all union workers of Guam and the island’s well being highly and greatly COMMEND our port workers for being diligent in their handling and attention to detail, which has resulted in the recognition of the hazardous cargo.
It is with great concern that I write to you regarding the safety processes that Port management has or will take to ensure the safety of our union brothers and sisters. There have been recent reports regarding encounters with the dangerous and deadly black widow spiders that have plagued our Port Union workers environment. To my understanding, our port workers continue to find the remnants of the plaque and are currently still threaten by the infestation. Information has been received and confirms the spiders are present and endangering personal goods and that is a great concern as Safety should be paramount.
It has also been brought to my attention that there has been no notification or safety processes in place since the unfortunate event and would greatly appreciate your notification of the plan to ensure the safety of our workers.
I look forward to your response.