How much does closing Ordot cost taxpayers? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

How much does closing Ordot cost taxpayers?

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - $28 million. That's how much a superior court judge has ordered the Government of Guam pay the former landowners of the property that is now the site of the Layon landfill. That's clear and on the record, but what about how much it's going to cost you and I to once and for all close and cap the Ordot Dump? In recent court filings that's exactly what the Government of Guam wants to know and they're not the only ones. The former landowners - who have filed a motion to intervene in the Ordot consent decree case - also want to know - in order to receive their just compensation.

Just this week federal receiver Gershman Brickner & Bratton began the process of finding a contractor for the construction to close the Ordot Dump. This despite concerns by GovGuam wanting to know exactly how much it will cost the people of Guam. "So what is the big secret? GBB in a special report submitted to the court on June 20 stated keeping official estimates confidential is a well-established principle for government construction," said officials.

Contracts and also serves as a deterrent to bid rigging.

The GBB special report however not only discussed its position on keeping the price tag concealed from the public but also sought to clear up what it called erroneous, factually wrong and misleading statements in court filings by the attorneys representing the former Layon landowners. The federal receiver for example citing comments such as additional tens of millions are going to be required because of major

Cost overruns and allegations it is trying to avoid public scrutiny of the consent decree projects ' finances to escape potential embarrassment. They are all comments GBB maintains are bogus and in particular states the people of Guam have been asked only to bear the cost of complying with the same environmental laws with which every other jurisdiction in the United States and much of the rest of the world must comply.

In recent court filings the attorneys for the former Layon landowners are taking issue with GBB's special report stating it is riddled with statements where the receiver is manifesting a knee- jerk adversity toward the landowners as well as toward GovGuam.

The former landowners assert that GBB is overstepping its boundaries and failing to live up to its fiduciary duties one of which is to serve as an impartial agent of the court in implementing the Ordot consent decree. The former landowners feel the June 20 special report is a perfect example of its contempt for the people of Guam, the Government of Guam and the attorneys in the case

In their most recent court filing the landowners cited several instances in which they believe the federal receiver has been biased. For example on Page 8 of the special report GBB states the superior court's ruling in the Layon landowners case was "clearly excessive" and should have been appealed. Attorneys for the landowners say this is a gross violation of the receiver's duty to remain impartial. Additionally the landowners take issue with comments in the special report regarding cost overruns and GBB's assertion that GovGuam is forced to pay up like every other similarly situated jurisdiction in the US.  The landowners fired back that this is misleading considering Guam is significantly poorer that any state in the country and secondly because the Ordot Dump has been declared to be a superfund site. They question why the receiver is not going after the US and the military to contribute its fair share in the cost of the Ordot cleanup.  We should note the US Environmental Protection Agency has previously identified the US Navy as being a responsible party for the environmental concerns at Ordot.

The landowners assert that it's unprecedented and unfair to require Guam to clean up other parties' messes on its own. "Instead the receiver has joined forces with the federal government to pursue a course of action where GovGuam pays for everything even the federal government's share of reasonability."

Ultimately the former landowners are hoping the court will prohibit the receiver from interfering with their motion to intervene in the consent decree case and instead have GBB refrain from taking positions on issues that are "none of its business"

Although the District Court chief judge indicated a hearing would be held on the former Layon landowners motion to intervene, no hearing date has been set yet.

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