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Former military dump in Toto

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - Residents in Toto are finally hoping to hear what exactly is in their backyard and whether it may be hazardous to their health. 86-year-old Vicente Ibanez has lived in the central village all his life, but only found out in 1994 that his land sits on top of an old world war two military dump.

"I start planting all these trees around," he said. "I don't find anything except from when I'm digging my septic tank I find all these capsules."

A massive amount of glass ampules containing calcium hypochlorite were found on his family's property.  The substance is widely used as a bleaching agent to treat water. According to ScienceLab.com, the substance could have harmful effects that can cause chemical burns as well as irritation of the respiratory tract if the powder is inhaled. He Ibanez, "When I was a kid all you have to do is pick it up and throw it and it sparks and there's an odor coming out of it; we don't know also if that's a potential hazard for us or our children among this compound."

Vicente's daughter Linda says her father granted the Army Corps of Engineers in 1994 an entry permit to survey the land and collect samples. "Every five years they're supposed to come in and do an evaluation based on their findings," she explained. "Just recently of last year they came in and did a soil testing. They had a bunch of drums taken out, I don't know what's in the drums. All I know is that by visual inspection when I did come in it said hazardous waste. But at this time we don't know what their findings is or what their evaluation or where they're at on it."

The ACE has planned a public meeting where they will reveal their proposed plans and an overview of the potential contamination discovered, potential risks posed, cleanup standards, and various remediation alternatives. "I'm hoping that they will inform us about the findings," said Ibanez. "If they got time to clean it out go for it. If I'm going to wait another 10, 20 years maybe I'm not going to be seeing it. My children are already staying here with their family and childrens [sic] and still, you know, they're not satisfied."

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 27 at the Mongmong-Toto-Maite Community Center from 6-8pm.

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