STUBBORN DUMP FIRES COSTLY ON GUAM

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 9) - People living
nearby were asked to leave their homes last night, and the governor declared a
state of emergency, after a blaze erupted at the 47-acre Ordot dump -- again.

Nearly every year, fires at the dump cause evacuations and
create large government firefighting bills.

Environmental representatives were at the fire conducting air
quality tests, and the Office of Civil Defense late yesterday said villagers
with medical conditions may experience problems caused by the smoke. Civil
Defense urged people living around the dump, especially on the Manengon Hills
side, to leave.

"Families are being asked to seek an alternate place to
stay," a Civil Defense press release quoted Civil Defense acting
Administrator Chuck Ada as saying. "Because of the costs involved in a full
evacuation, we are exploring this option."

The governor shortly before 10 p.m. signed an executive order
declaring a state of emergency for the fire, asking the Legislature to
appropriate $500,000 to fight the fire. Governors used to be able to declare
states of emergency, which allowed them to transfer as much as $250,000 from
other agency budgets. A change in the law in March 2001 requires governors to
ask lawmakers to provide an appropriation during a state of emergency.

The Guam Fire Department was called about the fire at 4:20 p.m.
yesterday and units from the Yona, Sinajana and Talofofo stations responded,
according to GFD spokeswoman Luci Perez. Perez and Civil Defense both said
emergency responders expect it to take five days to fully extinguish the fire.

"Hopefully, it'll be sooner," Perez said.

Perez said it appeared the fire started in the top layer of the
three-tiered dumpsite. Firefighters were unable to enter the facility yesterday
afternoon because the fire was blazing across both sides of the road inside the
dump.

At 10 last night, Perez said the Department of Public Works was
working to put topsoil, foam and other fire suppression materials on the fire.

Fire last erupted at the site Oct. 25 and raged for three weeks.
The fire cost the island's financially strapped government an estimated $750,000
and forced 11 families out of their homes, according to Pacific Daily News
files.

The Ordot dump has been listed as one of the nation's worst
toxic waste sites since 1982.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of
Justice in August filed a lawsuit to force the government of Guam to close the
decades-old dump and, in turn, open a new landfill, PDN files state. Settlement
talks in that suit are ongoing in the U.S. District Court of Guam.

April 9, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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