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Guam EPA says application ‘inadequate’

By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 6, 2009) – The design of the new landfill "provides an expressway for any failure of the liner system," which could contaminate nearby streams within minutes, according to government environmental officials, who have recommended design changes.

As it stands, the application for the landfill's environmental permit is "technically inadequate," according to a March 19 letter by Guam Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lorilee Crisostomo to the court-appointed solid waste receiver.

The application is inadequate mostly because of missing information, according to a March 17 letter from the U.S. EPA to the Guam EPA, including insufficient documentation to address concerns about the subdrain.

Solid waste receiver Gershman, Brickner and Bratton is in the process of applying for an environmental permit for the new landfill site, in Dandan, Inarajan, also referred to as Layon. A draft permit is scheduled to be issued May 30, at which point a six-week public comment period would begin. A final permit could be issued Aug. 27.

Earth work and road work already has started at the landfill site, but permits are required to begin construction.

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency last Friday filed its monthly progress report in federal court, including a copy of the technical and engineering review completed by the federal and local environmental protection agencies.

TG Engineers, which designed the new landfill, is scheduled to meet with environmental officials every day this week to discuss the review by federal and local environmental agency experts.

The new landfill design includes two liner-and-pipe systems, to capture and collect "leachate" from the garbage pile, and a subdrain system to prevent groundwater from seeping upward into the landfill.

"The hydrogeological report makes great pains to assure us that contamination of the groundwater beneath the liner would not reach the nearby streams for at least 40 years," environmental officials stated in their technical review. "But the very presence of the subdrain would probably reduce that to 40 minutes."

According to the review by the federal and Guam environmental agencies, the landfill's subdrain could be used to prevent water contamination, but only if a leak is detected quickly. "But the way it is presently designed, it simply discharges to daylight just upslope of the wetlands and streams."

The solution, according to the environmental review, is to build a pond or water-collecting hole where the subdrain spills water, and to periodically test the liquid there before releasing it. "That way, maybe a leak could be caught prior to release to the environment," the review states.

"Given the hydrogeological uncertainty, and resulting concerns regarding the capacity of the subdrain, the consultant may consider installing some redundancy within the subdrain system should leachate be identified within the groundwater collected by the subdrain," environmental officials stated. "A lined pond or other type of collection system could be incorporated to contain any potential leachate release at the subdrain outfall."

Other concerns raised during the technical review are:

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