TWO container trucks carrying trash became the first vehicles to make use of the new Layon Landfill yesterday morning following its official opening.
Prior to a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the front gate, District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood commented on the site, stressing it’s not a dump, but a landfill. She also noted the years it took for the new landfill to become a reality.
“This is really a long road, a challenging road to get to the landfill,” said Gatewood. “It was with a heavy heart that I appointed a federal receiver.”
She is aware of the concerns of residents in Malojloj, especially Inarajan Mayor Franklin Taitague, who didn’t want a landfill in his village.
Department of Justice Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mullaney called the new landfill a world-class facility and said Guam can be an example for other communities.
Also speaking was Harvey Gershman, president of Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB), who admitted they saw challenges in the system, but since taking over the Solid Waste Management Division of the Department of Public Works, have been able to implement change for the better.
“What we have accomplished in this receivership is everyone’s success, not just our success,” said Gershman. “It’s a success for the island’s future – an environmental succession.”
Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio also praised the new facility.
“It’s a far cry from Ordot Dump. Ordot Dump was an environmental disaster. Here there’s protection to ensure our water doesn’t get contaminated,” he said.
A little sad
Meanwhile, Taitague admits that up until an hour before the ceremony yesterday, he was still in a state of sadness.
“My emotions are with the people of Inarajan. I still feel the site should not have been Layon, but the laws have made it clear that it’s beyond the control of the residents,” Taitague said.
Inarajan resident Manny D. Afaisen, 79, is one of those residents concerned about the site. He took a tour of the facility and looked at where the trash would be disposed.
“It’s a good idea. The only problem is there is a lot of water here,” he said of the location, expressing his concern about possible pollution of the area.
The Inarajan resident, however, said he was assured by many people, especially Judge Gatewood, that safeguards are in place.
“My visit and tour of the place kind of changed my perception of the facility; and I saw that it’s going to be run properly,” he said.
However, there are concerns about the road leading to the site and the trucks transporting waste.
“That concern was expressed during our public hearings because of the spill from the trash going on to the road and the stench from the trucks,” Taitague said.
The mayor added he was given the impression during a recent hearing that the highway will be fixed to accommodate the trucks coming to and from the site.
“They are working on the bridges. As far as the highway, that’s not a reality yet,” he said, adding he was informed by GBB it’s just a matter of the Department of Public Works fixing the rights of way for the trucks.
The mayor noted Route 4 will be used for a majority of the transfer of trash, which includes the snake-like road and hills of the As-Alonso area between Talofofo Bay and the entrance into Malojloj proper.
The matter was brought up during a status hearing at District Court on Wednesday. In GBB’s report to Gatewood, the receiver noted the problems they encountered during a couple of dry runs, including the narrow roads which made it difficult for the trucks to navigate.
It seems the work is already happening along that particular street. DPW crews were already seen clearing vegetation and cutting down trees that made it difficult for trucks to go through.
GBB’s report also stressed that until a permanent solution is made, they are going to use “pilot vehicles” to escort the trucks. These vehicles will be used to warn motorists of an oncoming trash truck.