Bill seeks to recover millions from feds for Ordot Dump - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Bill seeks to recover millions from feds for Ordot Dump

Posted: Updated:
 by Ken Quintanilla

It was introduced back in February and today a public hearing was finally held on legislation that would take the feds to courts. Shortly before Bill 281 was introduced earlier this year, the Guam Solid Waste Authority board of directors had passed a resolution requesting the governor pursue legal action against the feds related to the costs of the Ordot Dump closure. 


Today interim board chairman Jonathan Denight once again encouraged lawmakers to move this matter forward, announcing, "We're in support of (Bill) 281 and we feel that with the cost to close Ordot (Dump) definitely the Government of Guam should pursue anything it can to help alleviate the costs of Ordot Dump." Senator Chris Duenas's Bill 281 would authorize the Government of Guam to pursue compensation from the federal government for their contribution to the Ordot Dump. 


The governor's chief policy advisor Arthur Clark says these costs were initially projected at $200 million, however, those costs are nowhere in sight of ending and will definitely be more. "The investigation into the action against the Navy and Department of Defense as a potential crime is long overdue," he stated. 


As we reported and was reiterated today, the Navy built and used the Ordot Landfill for 13 years to dispose municipal and military waste before transferring it to the local government. The dump was added to the National Priorities List and the USEPA even issued a Superfund record of decision noting that the Navy was in fact a potentially responsible party for environmental contamination at Ordot.


Clark says environmental experts have indicated that this lawsuit is not only viable, but should be pursued. "Because this is the Navy, the Department of Defense, the US federal government, deep pockets, large damages, we got everybody interested in this," he explained. 


Deputy Attorney General Pat Mason says the Attorney General's Office agrees if there is a viable claim against the feds, it should be pursued, but this is not a novel idea, saying, "But also we're not opposed to this intent of this bill and we're not opposed to the fact that in these particular circumstance, we believe a contingency fee would be appropriate." 


Mason says the AG's Office has also done its preliminary work as well and believes GovGuam should seek a firm with real expertise in the Comprehensive Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), which is commonly known as the Superfund. CERCLA was created by Congress in 1980 and provides broad federal authority to respond to releases of threats or releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. Mason offered some recommendations for the bill, saying, "In this situation we should be involved as we always are to make sure things are in the up and up in the procurement and we're not going to get involved in policy and we're not going to be telling experts what to do," he said. "We should also be the local firm to file the pro hac vice that admits an expert firm into the courts of Guam." 


Clark however raised concern about the AG's involvement. He noted that in a filing back in September last year in the condemnation case, the AGO stated that based off the viable evidence does not believe such a claim against the US under the federal CERCLA statute would be successful. "With that premise, being that starting premise, we have hesitation of letting them be in charge of the process going on here - and the reason the Governor's Office has initiated this and worked with Senator Duenas's office because it has been four years of inaction by the Attorney General's Office on this issue," he said. 


It's no secret that the Governor's Office and the ago have had very public disagreements and conflicts over environmental issues particularly with the Ordot Dump. Bill 281 not only authorizes GovGuam to retain professionals but appropriates $350,000 to pay for costs and expenses associated with bringing action against the feds. Clark says the bulk of the funds would be used to get experts to show up to court to testify during the proceedings.

  • NEWS HEADLINESMore>>

  • Outback Steakhouse staffers feed homeless in Dededo

    Outback Steakhouse staffers feed homeless in Dededo

    On Monday our friends over at Outback Steakhouse volunteered their time and food to feed the homeless at the Dededo Mayor's Office. They grilled on site and fed over 70 individuals who came out to enjoy some good old fashioned barbecue, Outback style! Outback Steakhouse is closed temporarily for a major remodel and renovations. It is expected to re-open in early December. The renovation is part of their 20th Anniversary activities and while renovations are under way, the team have b...More >>
    On Monday our friends over at Outback Steakhouse volunteered their time and food to feed the homeless at the Dededo Mayor's Office. They grilled on site and fed over 70 individuals who came out to enjoy some good old fashioned barbecue, Outback style! Outback Steakhouse is closed temporarily for a major remodel and renovations. It is expected to re-open in early December. The renovation is part of their 20th Anniversary activities and while renovations are under way, the team have b...More >>
  • Mark Charfauros informed of slight delay in his trial

    Mark Charfauros informed of slight delay in his trial

    Will he make his comeback to the Guam Police Department? He'll need to have his case settled in the courts before the Civil Service Commission will entertain his termination appeal. Former police colonel Mark Charfauros appeared in court on Tuesday. There he was advised there would be a slight delay to his February trial. When asked if parties would reach a resolution instead of going to trial, defense attorney Randy Cunliffe stated "I doubt it." Trial is now scheduled ...More >>
    Will he make his comeback to the Guam Police Department? He'll need to have his case settled in the courts before the Civil Service Commission will entertain his termination appeal. Former police colonel Mark Charfauros appeared in court on Tuesday. There he was advised there would be a slight delay to his February trial. When asked if parties would reach a resolution instead of going to trial, defense attorney Randy Cunliffe stated "I doubt it." Trial is now scheduled ...More >>
  • Chief judge dismisses case against GEB members

    Chief judge dismisses case against GEB members

    It's official. In an order issued this week, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood dismissed with prejudice the case against two Guam Education Board members in their individual capacities. They are Rosie Tainatongo and Jose Cruz, both of whom resolved their issues with Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez. If you recall, Fernandez filed a $7 million lawsuit in the federal court after the board terminated his contract. No action was taken for the remaining GEB membe...More >>
    It's official. In an order issued this week, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood dismissed with prejudice the case against two Guam Education Board members in their individual capacities. They are Rosie Tainatongo and Jose Cruz, both of whom resolved their issues with Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez. If you recall, Fernandez filed a $7 million lawsuit in the federal court after the board terminated his contract. No action was taken for the remaining GEB membe...More >>
Powered by Frankly