Monday, December 10, 2007

Clearing to Start at Guatali

Plans apparently underway to start clearing at Guatali
by Mindy Aguon, KUAM News
Monday, December 10, 2007

The company behind the construction of a local waste-to-energy facility, Guam Resource Recovery Partners, is moving forward with plans to construct a landfill at Guatali. Keep in mind the controversial contract signed under the Carl Gutierrez Administration would not only allow for the construction of an incinerator, but also a landfill at Guatali, and that both go hand-in-hand as the landfill would be needed to accept the ash from the facility.

With that said, the government is feeling the pressure from the feds because the Ordot Dump is filled to capacity, and fines are climbing by the day, to the tune of already $2 million. And despite the Ordot consent decree designating the site of the new landfill to be constructed in Layon or Dandan, GRRP seems to be moving forward with plans to break ground at Guatali, much to the dismay of residents.

With the Ordot Dump reaching maximum capacity and no place for the island's trash, GRRP seems to putting aside plans to construct a waste-to-energy facility for the moment and move forward with actually building a landfill at Guatali. GRRP attorney Arthur Clark maintains his client's efforts could be positive news for the Government of Guam, which has consistently failed in complying with a consent decree to close the Ordot Dump and open a new landfill.

It is this same consent decree that approved the construction of Guam's new municipal solid waste landfill to be constructed in Dandan. Said Clark, "Again, because the consent decree recognizes that if a private developer puts a landfill up at any point and time, or obviously if there's any basis to speed up the Ordot Dump closure because either a new landfill opens up or the waste-to-energy facility we can now start diverting our trash in that direction, that's going to speed up the closure of the Ordot Dump."

Back in 1996 GRRP entered into an exclusive contact with GovGuam to build a waste-to-energy facility on Guam. For the last decade though that contract and its provisions have been embattled in litigation. Now awaiting one last decision from the Guam Supreme Court that is on appeal, GRRP is moving forward with plans to build a landfill at Guatali - an area where the company entered into a land license agreement with the Chamorro Land Trust Commission, which owns the property. That agreement expires next year with a renewal clause for an additional fifteen years. It was also signed on the last day of the Gutierrez Administration.

Attorney Clark, however, admits even though a landfill might be built in Guatali, the incinerator may not. "Not necessarily," he confirmed, "I haven't discussed...that with my client, so I don't know if the incinerator site itself will be at Guatali. So it could be, but not necessarily."

Attorney Clark says the landfill was initially intended to hold the ash from the waste-to-energy facility, but because of necessity GRRP may need to collect solid waste until the incinerator is built or the government builds another incinerator.

Either way, it's bad news for Guatali residents like Daryl Diras, who told KUAM News, "Let's not be hasty where we build something that we know we're going to regret later. They should give this place a second thought. It's really right behind residences." Diras is frustrated with Guam Resource Recovery Partners' efforts to build a landfill in his backyard. What is now a quiet neighborhood with a backyard view of Apra Harbor and a valley complete with several rivers could soon be dramatically transformed into cells and piles of trash or ash.

Diras maintains residents here were given no opportunity to give any input about a landfill or for that matter an incinerator in their backyard. "Who knows? Down the road it's going to effect us later, if not me, my children? My children's children? Especially the residents down in Agat, they're going to be smelling all that garbage," said the Santa Rita resident.

"It's such a beautiful area, it's such a shame what they're going to do to it."

On Thursday the company intends to hold a groundbreaking ceremony, despite not receiving approval from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency on a clearing-and-grading application to clear 3,500 feet for a future landfill.

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