Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Federal Receiver in Possible Violation at Layon

Federal receiver in possible violation
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News

THE Guam Environmental Protection Agency is conducting an investigation into the earthwork project at the Layon landfill site, after receiving aerial photos of the landscape, clearly showing some kind of drainage system or culvert where water is being diverted to.

Conchita Taitano, administrator of the Air and Land division, said yesterday that her administrator, Lorilee Crisostomo, passed on a letter sent by Sen. Rory Respicio addressing his concerns regarding recent activities at the landfill site.

Taitano said yesterday that she was very concerned and has contacted GEPA’s water division to investigate. She also e-mailed federal receiver, Gershman, Brickner & Bratton for a response and is awaiting word from the company representative, Chris Lund.

Variety asked Taitano, who had reviewed the photos, if she could tell by the photos whether the apparent water was just rain run-off settling into the new pond or if the groundwater had been reached during the earthmoving process and was now filling the depression.

The administrator of the Air and Land division at GEPA also stated that she could not comment, by “just looking at a photo,” but did say that GEPA is delving into the matter.

“Is that rain water or is that water that was dug up and is filling? I don’t know the answer at this point in time. The administrator gave me the letter last week. I scanned it. I emailed the letter to our water division to investigate this. I also emailed GBB to explain this,” a clearly concerned Taitano told Variety.

The aerial photos clearly show two huge pipes attached to an apparatus of some sort, as well as four excavators.

“Particularly odd is the need for excavators,” said Senator Respicio. The senator believes that such equipment is not required for the type of earthworks the federal receiver should be doing at the site at this point in time.

“There are many questions raised by this photograph,” he said. Taitano would seem to agree.

“It’s obvious in the photos that there are pipes down there. The question needs to be asked--is water being drained out of there? And where is the water coming from? Is the water coming down from higher ground or did someone hit the groundwater? I don’t know at this time,” said Taitano.

TG Engineers is clearing the earth for the construction of Cells 1 and 2 of the new landfill. The contractor is behind schedule, but that is not unusual during the early stages of such work, according to a report filed with the court by the federal receiver.

Speaker Judi Won Pat said that she had spoken to Taitano as well to express her concern about what is taking place in Inarajan.

“It was my understanding that as the earthwork is being done, there would be no contact with the groundwater. I don’t know what’s going on down there, but the concerns are valid and we must get clarification from the federal receiver about what’s happening,” said Won Pat.

Won Pat reiterated her feelings about groundwater that could possibly be used for residents in the south being contaminated because of the new landfill development.

“I don’t want to jump the gun, but every effort must be taken to address all these concerns. I await the response from Guam EPA,” said the speaker.

Respicio said that Guam EPA has the responsibility to ensure that the companies that have received permits perform only those functions that their permits allow.

The aerial photographs were attributed to local photographer Steve Hardy; however, Respicio said he did not commission the flight or engage the photographer. It is still unclear why the photos were taken in the first place.

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