GSWA, federal receiver at odds over information & duties - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GSWA, federal receiver at odds over information & duties

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The Guam Solid Waste Authority met today as they try to get a better handle on the Ordot consent decree and the operations of the Layon Landfill. The board is effectively powerless as the federal receiver maintains it is charge of the GSWA until the District Court says otherwise.

Members of the Authority were hoping to get detailed information from federal receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton about performance indicators for the Layon Landfill and solid waste operations overall.  But the court ordered spirit of cooperation was called into question when board chairman Andrew Gayle was told by the federal receiver that any information the board requested would first be provided to the District Court judge, who could then release it to the GSWA members.

Federal receiver representative David Manning made it clear that the receiver is the fiduciary for the GSWA, not board members.

During a previous meeting, the board requested the receiver provide detailed information as to why the government has never pursued a claim against the United States for the federal government's role in the early period of the Ordot Dump.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has previously identified the U.S. Navy as being a responsible party for the environmental concerns at Ordot. Manning contends it was an effort that was brought up by the previous administration under Felix Camacho that sought federal funding to pay for the dump closure. The federal receiver explained that $103 million in loans and grants were acquired but eventually abandoned.

Manning stated, "There were concerns that Governor Camacho had about the level of debt that the Government of Guam had at that time.  The debt is considerably larger than that today. But he indicated that he did not, as I recall the letter and as I recall the discussions with his administration, he did not have a viable use for the bond money that could pay for it in a way that would not be an additional burden to the General Fund."

Manning also referred to a record of decision from the USEPA and noted that the government would likely be unsuccessful in any claim against the feds as the superfund apportions responsibility for the waste that must be cleaned up. "And during the 70-80 years depending on how you estimate the life of the Ordot Dump, the vast majority of that time it was operated as a municipal solid waste dump by the Government of Guam," he said. "So logically the vast majority of the liability would fall on the Government of Guam."

Manning adding that GovGuam is free to pursue any kind of claim it wishes to pursue against the federal government but it is something they would not be a part of.

The board meanwhile asked the receiver to inquire whether the Attorney General's Office would be representing the board and if not, would they still be able to review their request for proposal for a legal counsel. The receiver indicated they would inquire in the next week.

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