Mayor keeps on rolling to cleanup villages - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Mayor keeps on rolling to cleanup villages

by Lannie Walker

Guam - There may be a roadblock with the Abandoned Vehicles Project, but village mayors evidently aren't sitting back anymore - they're taking the drivers seat to get the program back up and running. 

Tired of waiting for Bali Steel to come into compliance in order for the cleanup of abandoned vehicles to begin, Mangilao mayor Nito Blas says, "I don't know what's going on between Bali Steel and EPA and everything."  One municipal leader is taking matters into his own hands, Mayor Blas has collected more than just abandoned vehicles behind his office along Route 10.

His say a pile of junks good will be removed - free of charge - not by Bali Steel, but by Pyramid Recycling.  Asked if he needed any kind of permit to keep the materials in the back of his office," he replied simply with, "I'm cleaning Mangilao."

A cleanup that was scheduled to start over a year ago, but with Bali Steel still under investigation by the Guam Environmental Protection Agency, village mayors were left hanging.  Further complicating the hold up with Bali Steel is a lease agreement with the Ancestral Lands Commission.

Senator Ben Pangelinan says the company owes the agency a hefty sum, telling KUAM News, "In a May notice to Bali Steel the ALC and GEPA issued a notice of default in which Bali Steel [had] in arrears of $58,000 in back rent due."

As per a payment history sent to KUAM News by Bali Steel spokesperson David Bell, the company did attempt to catch-up and pay the back rent with a payment of $7,000 in May.  The situation, it seems, has turned into a bit of a catch 22 - Bali Steel needs to get paid by the government in order to pay the government.

Bell says his company will be able to clear the debt to the Ancestral Lands Commission when a payment for the Abandoned Vehicle Project - a $1.4 million contract - comes through.  

But Mayor Blas is not bidding his time waiting for the situation with Bali Steel to clear.  To get the job done, he leased construction equipment for $40 an hour and ordered a 40-foot container to hold the trash.  He explained, "Like the junk cars that have been there for three months; I'm going to take it out of there and put it in a temporary place and a company will come and take it away."

That's exactly what Blas did. In a matter of 20 minutes the car was compacted and ready for pick-up.  Blas says he isn't the only mayor getting a jumpstart on the project.

He says other mayors are doing the same in villages, such as those in Talofofo and Santa Rita.  The cleanup cost, says Blas: $250 per car.  And with 600 vehicles in Mangilao needing to be scraped, he says it's 1 down, 599 to go.

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