GUAM 2 YEARS FROM LANDFILL AS DEADLINE PASSES

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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 27) – The government of Guam last weekend officially broke the promise it made in court four years ago to open a new landfill.

The federal consent decree signed by GovGuam officials in 2003 called for a new landfill to be open by Sept. 22, 2007, but Department of Public Works Director Lawrence Perez yesterday said it will take at least two more years to open the new landfill in Dandan, Inarajan.

A landfill contractor likely will not be selected until next year, and the green light to start building the landfill likely will not be given until next May, Perez said, adding that it would then take between 18 months and two years until the landfill is ready.

A government commission responsible for getting the dump-closure effort back on track met again yesterday, but commission members still have not made any policy decisions.

Perez, who is a member of the Solid Waste Law Review Commission, yesterday said he believes the commission should focus its attention on legislation to turn the Public Works solid waste division into a public corporation, as recommended by federal Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan.

He said the issues being discussed by the commission, such as recycling, would instead become the responsibility of the newly created solid waste corporation, its board members, and the managers it hires.

"We (the administration) are in agreement to establish it as a public corporation," Perez said, although not necessarily under the control of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, as proposed by the judge.

In the meantime, Public Works still has not hired a private engineer to verify the agency's estimate that the Ordot dump will be completely filled by next April or May. An engineering contract is in the process of being revised to add the additional work, Perez said.

And the agency's proposal to collect fewer garbage cans from residential customers also is on hold, Perez said, as Public Works ensures that residents have other options, such as recycling, available to them so there will not be illegal dumping.

Governor's assistant legal counsel Ray Haddock told the group that unless local officials arrive at a plan, "the court will make these plans for us."

Commission Chairman Sen. James Espaldon told Democratic Sen. Tina Muna-Barnes he understands her desire to exclude Dandan as the next landfill site, but he asked everyone to keep an open mind.

If everybody has different, pre-determined notions about what should be done, "Then we'll never get to that consensus," he said.

Yesterday's meeting became heated at times, with former Republican Sen. Joanne Brown accusing the commission of devoting too much time to Guam Resource Recovery Partners, which holds a controversial incinerator contract. Other companies capable of developing a sanitary landfill should be given equal time, she said.

Espaldon said the commission always has been willing to entertain anyone who wants to contribute to the discussion.

"To raise that point now, you're too late," he told Brown. "At this point in time, we've got to move on."

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