Information briefing held on waste-to-energy facility - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Information briefing held on waste-to-energy facility

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's been described as a lengthy, controversial, complicated and at times an emotional issue and today lawmakers wanted to get down to the bottom of a proposed settlement between Guam Resource Recovery Partners and the Guam Economic Development Authority over a proposed waste-to-energy facility.

Its goal was to offer public scrutiny along with putting to rest an issue that has been lingering for almost two decades. But for GRRP project coordinator David Sablan, his goal at today's information briefing was to show the benefits of the proposed waste-to-energy facility. "What we're proposing is to provide one additional aspect of the integrated solid waste management program that I think is needed here on Guam we do some composting, we do a lot of recycling and we certainly have a landfill one part that is missing that is also approved by the USEPA is incineration," he said.

He says GRRP's goal is to reduce the costs of solid waste management on Guam and to provide electricity as a by-product in order to reduce tipping fees. "With this integration with waste-to-energy project, we will have source reduction," he explained.

Of the many cost benefits GRRP claims this would entail they include $60 per ton by 2018 when its up and running with a monthly residential fee of $12 to $16 per month. Compared to the Layon landfill, he says tipping fees would increase to $225 in FY2013 with residential fees increasing to $45.  "So there's a lot of financial benefits of what we're proposing here, not to mention the environmental benefits that would come as a result as well as not having to turn a lot of our free land into landfills every eight to ten years," he said.

As for the actual language in the contract, it was a few months ago as we reported when GEDA and GRRP came up with the settlement through court-ordered mediation. And just as lawmakers questioned representatives on issues such as costs and the use of technology, the contract's confidentiality agreement was also discussed. Attorney Anita Arriola representing GRRP said, "But one of the reasons why we're here and one of the criticisms that have been leveled against GovGuam and GRRP is that we have never been transparent and there's some criticisms that there is some kind of behind the scenes deal there is not, if the administration and the government want to disclose the terms of that memorandum of agreement we'd be happy to do that as well, we would agree to that," she said.

Arriola, GEDA legal counsel Tom Fisher and Sandra Miller representing the Government of Guam were the three parties involved in the court-ordered mediation. Miller was not present during today's info briefing. And while Fisher noted how incineration is illegal, Arriola seemed to disagree with how it relates to moving this contract forward, saying, "We want to get an approval from the legislature because frankly as you all know, we have had decades of lawsuits involving the 1996 contract, we don't want to go there again we want the legislature and the governor to approve this so we have a binding, valid and legal contract we believe the contract is legal despite the incinerator law because the incinerator law was passed in 2000."

She says that law cannot operate retroactively. Nonetheless, the contract still needs to be approved by the legislature. "We are putting this before you as a deliberative body, we think your voice is indispensable," she said.

Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr., who has oversight on GEDA and called for the hearings says lawmakers requested for more information by both parties and says most likely he'll hold another hearing before any action is taken on the matter. 
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