GovGuam's $160M suit against Navy raises dumping of military waste in Ordot
The Attorney General of Guam has sued the U.S. Navy for costs incurred by the Government of Guam as a result of shutting down the Ordot dump, building the Layon landfill and spending for other related environmental safeguards.
The costs are expected to exceed $160 million, according to the lawsuit, filed by the AG's office at Gov. Eddie Calvo's request.
The Government of Guam has previously asserted that Ordot dump also received military waste materials for years prior to its closure.
Calvo said the lawsuit provides Guam with an opportunity to determine whether the U.S. military used the herbicide Agent Orange on the island.
"If we find Agent Orange, other military-grade contaminants, and airplanes from the 1940s in the first layer of that Dump, it’s going to be very hard for the Justice Department to say that we put those there," Calvo said in his state of the island address last night.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, Guam is suing the Navy under provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 for costs associated with the closing of the dump, which was ordered by the federal government in 2002 when the U.S. government sued Guam under the Clean Water Act.
"To date, Guam has expended approximately $56 million in response costs related to the remediation and closing of the Ordot Landfill alone, and response costs of all related efforts are expected to exceed approximately $160 million," the lawsuit states.
"Guam should not be left to shoulder the full financial burden of having closed Ordot Dump when it is clear that the United States Navy is also responsible for the environmental condition of the Dump," said Guam’s Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson.
Barrett-Anderson told The Guam Daily Post that she had investigated the Navy's involvement in the landfill's contamination at the behest of Gov. Eddie Calvo.
According to court documents, the Navy was identified as a "potentially responsible party for the environmental contamination at and emanating from the Ordot landfill" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1988.
While Barrett-Anderson said she felt confident the court would rule in Guam’s favor, she also said it was unlikely that the Government of Guam will recoup all of its loses.
Instead, she said the suit is an opportunity to not only recover some of the taxpayers dollars that went into the dump's closure, but also a means for securing money to pay for future costs as they relate to the Ordot dump.