The Legislature — down party lines — yesterday made a decision that will hit Guamanians’ pocketbooks if they do not change their minds. The Democrat senators’ vote to table Bill No. 281 brings taxpayers another day closer to forking out much more money to close the Ordot Dump.
How does Bill No. 281 save you lots of money?
Bill No. 281 allows the governor to bring in lawyers eager to represent Guam in a suit against the federal government. The cause: Holding the feds accountable for the toxic waste and other contaminated material it poured into the Ordot Dump for years. Governor Calvo wants the federal government to pay a healthy portion of the cost to close the dump it started decades ago.
It is the only solution on the table to avoid trash fee increases
It is very possible that tipping fees will increase up to $90 a month to pay for the closure of Ordot Dump and other projects related to the operation of the new landfill. Governor Calvo previously raised this issue when the federal receiver informed GovGuam that its bonds to open Layon and close Ordot were not enough to cover the dump closure and the building of roads.
Suing the federal government to pay its fair share of the closure of Ordot Dump will take this debt burden off the backs of the people of Guam.
Governor’s spokesman: We shouldn’t cow-tow
“It baffles us why the Democrats are cow-towing to the federal government, when we know they are responsible for the worst waste at that dump,” Governor’s spokesman Julius Santos said.
How GovGuam got into this mess, and why we should lead ourselves out
Governor Calvo finds the Democrats’ actions suspect, since the entire reason for the Consent Decree on the Ordot Dump was a failure of Democrat leadership to get the job done. Here’s a short timeline that will help to explain why it costs so much to get rid of our trash:
–       On July 24, 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an administrative order for GovGuam to stop discharge of leachate from the Ordot Dump into the Lonfit River. This, according to USEPA, violated the Clean Water Act.
–       On Sept. 19, 1997, the USEPA requested information and data on the discharge. By this time, nothing had been done to close the Ordot Dump.
–       On February 11, 2003, just a little over one month after Gov. Gutierrez left office, the U.S. District Court of Guam bound GovGuam to a Consent Decree on the closure of the Ordot Dump. Up to then, GovGuam had not closed the dump.
–       On March 17, 2008, Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood — tired of GovGuam’s excuses — appointed Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (GBB) as the receiver to take over the operations of the island’s solid waste management since GovGuam failed to close the dump and open a new landfill.
–       GovGuam took out over $200 million in bonds the following year to pay for the opening of Layon.
–       This past year, the receiver made public that costs to close Ordot had doubled, and that no money was left from the bonds to cover that cost.
–       Governor Calvo started looking at evidence that the federal government itself was most complicit in the hazardous waste thrown into the Ordot Dump in the period after World War II. He asked the Legislature for ways and means to sue the federal government to take financial responsibility. That was why Sen. Chris Duenas introduced Bill No. 281.
–       Bill No. 281 was the only solution on the table to keep Guamanians from shelling out the entire cost of closing the Ordot Dump.

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