Abandoned Vehicle Removal Program v.2.0 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Abandoned Vehicle Removal Program v.2.0

by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - Residents can expect to see cleaner streets as the village mayors are hoping to re-launch the Abandoned Vehicle Removal Program from 2007. Spearheaded by Sinajana Vice-Mayor Robert Hoffman on behalf of the Mayors Council of Guam and Senator Tina Rose Muna-Barnes, the program aims to clean up all of the eyesores on island once and for all using the money that has been designated for the Recycling Revolving Fund.

Abandoned vehicles are more than just an eyesore - they are a public nuisance and a safety hazard.  In 2007, Bali Steel Guam shipped 20,000 vehicles off-island - that's approximately 6,000 tones of scrap metal that was shipped over to Taiwan and to China. Today village mayors estimate an additional 25,000 abandoned vehicles are on island, but have only accounted for 3,000. Residents who would like to dispose of an abandoned vehicle can go to their village mayor's office and get Bali Bucks, so that the service is free.

Senator Muna-Barnes who has oversight over the Mayor's Council says legislation is in place for them to re-launch the project - and that the island needs some landscaping.  "As I continue to work closely with Vice-Mayor Hoffman it's important to know that is whatever is needed to enter into these contracts - the authorization in [Public Law] 29-116 gives them authorization to enter into contracts with recycling companies to cleanup the debris," he said.

Hoffmann says he is concerned about the excess of abandoned vehicles left to rust all over the island as they are often used to store garbage, which attracts pests making them likely disease breeding grounds.  "Outlined in the law, its abandoned cars, its batteries, its tires, its white goods and other junk metals. It follows within the rule in that scope and everything else we just have to scope out because before we just did a sweep," he said.

As village mayors prepare for an overall population increase of up to 80,000 people in the next few years according to estimates sighted in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Hoffman says the sweep should take about a year.

He said, "We've got to make sure that our people are aware that they cannot hide trash bags and cannot have pampers or household debris inside the cars.  When we remove them because usually people when they know that you are going to pick up their car they say the mayors are going to take it so they put in baby strollers and everything like that so we want to make sure our teams ready and the recycling companies are ready to receive us."

Unlike in 2007 where the program ran out of money, the project would be funded by the $3,000,000 that the Guam EPA estimates is in the Recycling Revolving Fund.  "Now that there is a set fee in place it's always going to happen its not going to be a one shot deal like when the Government has money let's clean the island and forget about it like what happened in 2007- now you have a set mechanism - you pay this fee - you are entitled<" said Hoffmann.

The final piece of the puzzle is proper disposal of the vehicle - fluids like gasoline or diesel fuel, oil transmission fluid, and power steering and break fluids can leak and pollute the soil, ground and surface water. Bali Steel disposes of the hazardous waste before the cars are crushed and sent off-island.

The mayors expect plan to kick-off the project on February 15 in the village of Santa Rita with an ultimate goal of creating a municipal recycling program.

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