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Final environmental closure for Ordot Dump

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It's been 66 years since the Government of Guam took over operations of the Ordot Dump. Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood presided over a court hearing at the site to mark its final environmental closure.

Perhaps it was only fitting that bursts of rain punctuated the closure ceremony.  It is contaminated leachate brought by the rains to the nearby Lonfit River that sparked the long road to Ordot's shutdown.  The USEPA found violations of the Clean Water Act, and the federal courts stepped in to force GovGuam to literally clean up its act.

US Justice Department attorney Robert Mullaney said, "The Ordot Dump was a big sponge. And for decades it collected the water that we're seeing right now, and that water came through the dump and it leached out the poisons in that dump, and left them in your river. You do not do that. You don't poison your own drinking water, you don't poison your own rivers."

Years of inaction by GovGuam went by before the federal court appointed a receiver to finally close Ordot and oversee Guam's solid waste system. But what they found, says Chief Judge Gatewood, was a division in complete disarray. For example, she noted, "Solid waste was spending up to $11,000 a day renting equipment and operators for the equipment while the equipment owned by solid waste remained broken and the employees idle. So that means $11,000 a day found in 2008, the year that I appointed the federal receiver, that means $4,000,015,000 was spent on nothing."

Eight years later, by all accounts trash collection is much better. The Layon Landfill has replaced Ordot, and a representative for the receiver had nothing but praise for the employees. So now GovGuam says its ready to run the solid waste system again.  Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson said, "And it was an issue of money, it wasn't an issue of we didn't want to do it. The Guam Legislature enacted the board of the Guam Solid Waste Authority. And enacted an authority, because ladies and gentlemen this is never going to go back to 25 years ago"

A hearing on the transition is set for Tuesday. 

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