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Chief judge gets update on landfill

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - Efforts to close the Ordot Dump and open a new landfill in Layon are on track.  Such was the report from federal receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton during a quarterly status hearing this morning. But there's still several concerns that need to be addressed in order to make that a reality.

Only 476 days of airspace remain at the Ordot Dump. But with major progress at the Layon landfill site, GBB isn't too worried about making the deadline to complete the project.  Special Principal Associate David Manning told KUAM News, "We're working hard with the Government of Guam and other to try and help them with some of their issues around the USDA, but generally speaking we're in good shape and things are moving well at Layon."

During today's hearing before District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood, GBB reported that the earthwork within cells 1 and 2 were completed and accepted, and the area was turned over to the lining systems contractor to commence construction of the entrance building and subdrain installation.

However, Guam EPA Administrator Lorilee Crisostomo told the court she is not comfortable with the lining system being put in place, as she does not have a single employee to oversee it.  "We don't have the expertise nor any other Government of Guam agency has that expertise to say it's being done right and we need fast track of monies so we can get that contractor on board and ensure that it's being done right," she explained.

Crisostomo even made the plea today for $500,000 to obtain the needed support in order for her agency to oversee any consent decree projects, but the court recommended she work with GBB and the USEPA on the issue.

Meanwhile, as construction on the access road to Layon is underway, Gene Nemus with the Parsons Transportation Group admits the Togcha and Talofofo bridges, which is part of the route to Layon, are not up to current design standards.  "When we look forward to the transfer trucks running on the bridges as designed currently are not adequate to handle fully loaded transfer trucks," said Nemus.

He adds that they are conducting an assessment with the Guam Department of Public Works to get the bridges to full compliance. Nemus also reports that one lane of the Ylig Bridge will be completed before the new landfill opens.

In spite of all the upgrades, funding was a major concern, as GovGuam is still awaiting the approval of a $104 million USDA loan-grant application. Guam Economic Development Authority Administrator Tony Blaz said, "We're hopeful that the final closing of the USDA loan-grant mix will happen hopefully.  I can't give a specific date and time, but maybe May or June."

Either way, GBB says Section 30-backed bonds will be used as a source of funding, and the receiver is optimistic the cost of the entire project could be reduced by $21 million. GBB says they also plan to meet with the military this week to discuss the possibility of bringing them on as customers.

Governor Felix Camacho said, "The receiver had submitted a draft agreement for consideration and that'll be the baseline that we can look at as it relates to the government and the military coming into some agreement."

The draft agreement states the military will be charged the same rates as commercial tipping fees. While the receivers gained more than 17,000 customers for the Trash Cart Rollout Program, GBB has also announced a pilot program underway for curbside recycling and is working on the procurement for the bulky item collections program with the mayors.

The court has also given DPW a one-month timeframe to work with GBB to cleanup the abandoned vehicles, tires and drums at the solid waste facility, as the items have been a serious health hazard. The next status hearing is scheduled for August 11.

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