Military's use of landfill could benefit residents
By Steve Limtiaco • Pacific Daily News • January 25, 2010
The military wants to be a customer of the new landfill when it is built, according to the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the military buildup, and that decision could help keep trash fees down for Guam residents, saving them about $20 a month.
The bad news is the current $10 monthly fee, which has been in place during the ongoing registration period, is scheduled to increase to $30 per month by April 2011, and will not decrease, even if the military commits to using the civilian landfill.
The good news is the military's use of the landfill is expected to shield residents from steep price increases during the next decade, so the monthly fee would remain about $30.
Solid waste receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton last summer calculated the monthly fee for residential trash collection, with and without the military's participation. The government's solid waste operations are in receivership because the government of Guam failed to close the Ordot dump and build a new landfill, as required in a 2003 consent decree.
Without the military, the monthly fee for residential trash collection would increase to $43 by 2015, then to $52.81 by 2017, according to the receiver's calculations. The $52.81 fee would hold steady for at least five years, through 2022.
And commercial customers would save as much as $118.60 per ton on commercial tipping fees if the military uses the landfill -- $156 instead of $274.60, according to the calculations for the year 2017.
According to the draft EIS for the buildup, the amount of trash that would be generated by the military is significant -- about 40 percent of the trash entering the new landfill would be put there by military customers. The entire island, including the military, is projected to produce 135,849 tons of waste per year, not including recyclable material.
But the projected life expectancy of the new landfill is expected to remain the same -- more than 30 years -- according to the receiver, because public works officials overestimated how much trash was being generated by Guam civilians. That's because there was no accurate way of measuring the trash going into Ordot dump when estimates were made for the new landfill. Trash entering Ordot dump now is weighed on a truck scale.
"It will certainly fill up faster with (the military) but the estimated life will still be well above 30 years," said David Manning, special principal associate for the solid waste receiver. "With the scale system in place, it is now clear that the total waste stream, even when the military is included, are at about the levels originally projected without the military."
In its latest quarterly report to the federal court, the receiver also noted that the military's use of the landfill could benefit the environment by reducing the number of landfills and by providing greater opportunities to work with the military on ways to recycle and minimize the amount of waste being generated here.
According to Manning, the military likely will collect and haul its own trash, even if it becomes a customer of the new landfill. In that respect, it would be similar to a commercial trash hauler.
The receiver has been negotiating with the military on behalf of the local government, and the military in July 2009 signed a letter of intent to use the new landfill.
"The military has consistently indicated that it will continue to handle its own waste collection," Manning said.