GUAM SEEKS U.S. FUNDING SUPPORT FOR LANDFILL

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By Gina Tabonares

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 26) – The Guam government wants congressional appropriations to help build a landfill in Layon, citing the anticipated increased military personnel that will share the use of a new dump.

In a reply to the United States’ recommendation of new time lines to meet the consent decree projects that include the closure of the Ordot Dump and the construction of a new landfill, GovGuam came up with its own suggestions of deadlines that should be imposed against the federal government.

GovGuam said by April 2, 2007, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the secretary of the Department of Defense should report to Gov. Felix P. Camacho on whether and under what time frame they will seek congressional appropriations to share the costs of the landfill construction.

Members of the legislature will also tour Ordot Dump today to check its current state, determine legislative help that will resolve the solid waste management problems, and find ways to comply with the consent decree. (See related story)

GovGuam counsel Assistant Attorney General Helen Kennedy asked the District Court to require the United States to respond within five business days to all requests for assistance from the government involving federal lands, federal funds, federal permits, and National Environmental Protection Act requirements, and respond within 15 business days to any submittals from the local government to the USEPA.

GovGuam said the U.S. decision in 2005 to increase significantly its military presence, including the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, was not part of the plan for the landfill when the consent decree was made.

The local government said the DOD will need to use the Layon landfill for solid waste disposal because the Air Force’s landfill is running out of space and the Navy does not have a sanitary landfill.

Guam Department of Public Works director Larry Perez said he spoke with Major General David Bice, who was recently hired as the Guam director of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment, about the issue. They agreed that both the local government and the U.S. military need time for the federal agencies to prepare requests for federal appropriations to assist in the construction of the new landfill.

And because the new landfill will not be open in September 2007 and environmental concerns require changes that need new USEPA permits, GovGuam wants the federal court to require the USEPA to respond to any submittals of the local government in a timely manner.

Kennedy said the USEPA is not required to respond within any stated timeframe to draft plans and final designs that GovGuam must submit, contributing to the delays in the implementation of the consent decree projects.

GovGuam wants the USEPA to file and serve written consent to the dirt road improvements by March 14, 2007.

GovGuam also wants the federal court’s intervention on the NASA approval of the temporary road improvements for the Layon landfill.

The consent decree, GovGuam said, should include reasonable conditions as to time, control, restoration and release of liability.

GovGuam insists on modifying the consent decree timelines so that design modifications to the Layon landfill can meet Guam’s environmental regulations and cost-saving changes to the Ordot Dump closure design can be made.

The federal government earlier recommended that the court order new deadlines to require GovGuam to meet its consent decree obligations after the government failed to meet the April 21, 2006 deadline to build a new landfill and close the Ordot Dump on or before Oct. 23, 2007.

The District Court of Guam scheduled a March 8 hearing to discuss the motion filed by the U.S. government.

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