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Residents optimistic about dump's closure

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - With 140 days of air space remaining at the Ordot Dump, residents living near the mountain of trash are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel as the dump is set to officially close solid waste operations at the end of August.

"We've patiently waited. That dump has been there for 67+ years and that's been the primary dumping ground for this island for 67+ years. Having grown up in this village it's about time," said Ordot-Chalan Pago Mayor Jessy Gogue. Ordot residents are optimistic that they'll finally see the closure of the mountain of trash that's been piling up for decades. The dump that's in their backyard has been a constant nuisance- from the foul odor to the blazes not to mention the traffic from dump trucks that they've dealt with for years.

Mayor Gogue says the anticipation and excitement is building as the Ordot Dump is expected to be closed by August 31. "Until we see the actual locks on the gates and the work done toward actually addressing the environmental concerns that have impacted the Ordot Dump, then we can breathe easier," he explained.

Federal receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton's associate principle, David Manning, reported to the court today that the process of the closure will take some time and will cost an estimated $40 million. While residents may see the locks on the Ordot Dump and operations will cease by the end of August, the actual dump won't officially be closed until 2013.

He said, "It will take some time to do this because there will have to be serious investigations of the environmental issues associated with it that could not be conducted while the dump was still operating so we anticipate it will be 18 months to two years before actual construction starts out there for the final cap."

The receiver has contracted the consultant services of Brown and Caldwell to iron out all of the environmental issues related to closing the dump, which will be a significant undertaking. Manning continued, "There has to be some creativity thinking that goes into how they go about the process of designing a collection system that will keep that leachate from going into the river and other places where it shouldn't go."

While it may be hard to envision now, public law actually requires that the land be converted to a public park that will overlook Manneggon Hills - it's something Mayor Gogue believes is entirely possible once the Ordot Dump receives its final cap. "I can see a pavilion being built up there where people can go there and have picnics and maybe a skate park at the bottom of the area, maybe a trail area that allows people to walk safely away from the traffic and do a walking trail," he stated.

"There's a great deal of potential for that area."

District Court Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood has scheduled a status hearing for August 31, when she anticipates a ribbon-cutting for the opening of Layon and the ceremonial locking of the gates at the Ordot Dump.

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