With the Department of Public Works being under fire from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for continued violations at the Ordot Dump, what do Guam's lawmakers have to say about the agency's negligence? Critics speculate that such blatant disregard for environmental safety may have caused the landfill to literally go up in smoke.
Speaker Mark Forbes (R), who has oversight over DPW, says it's sad that the Dump continues to face perennial problems and suggests agency director Larry Perez figure something out to ensure that the facility is covered daily, as indicated in a stipulated order from the USEPA. This would effectively avoid federal fines. "I really think Perez needs to figure out how to structure work over there in such a way to make sure this job gets done on a consistent basis," said the Speaker.
He added, "While I don't know all the facts of the situation, I guess he's still researching this but if in fact there was no covering for four days in a row - that's pretty significant, four days in a row. It's not like, 'Oops, we forgot one day.' It's becoming a consistent pattern, so something needs to happen to make sure that it doesn't happen again."
Forbes' Republican colleague, Vice-Speaker Joanne Brown, has legislative oversight of the Ordot landfill. She tells KUAM News that she has no problem with calling an oversight hearing to address why the dump was not receiving daily coverage, but questions whether it'll make any difference. She explained, "Unfortunately, until we actually address the closure of the Ordot Dump, we're going to continue to end of with these types of situations - not that they're excusable, because they're not," she stated. I mean, the impact of the surrounding community in Ordot and families there causes a tremendous area of concern as it should for all of us here on island, but the other reality is that dump is over capacity. It does need to be closed. A new landfill needs to be constructed.
"And so when we do have a new landfill, we'll have a properly designed sanitized landfill where these types of situations would be very rare to occur if it's properly managed, and we don't have that. And until we close Ordot, I think we're going to continued to end up with these environmental problems."