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Mayors' patience running thin with illegal dumping in villages

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Not only is the trash growing, but so is the frustration for island mayors when it comes to illegal dumping and solid waste in their villages. The mayors voiced their concern to one lawmaker with the hopes of introducing new policy.

They're literally down in the dumps. Ordot-Chalan Pago mayor Jessy Gogue said, "Obviously there's a great deal of frustration with regards to just the mission we've been asked to take on for the past several years and almost decades and that's basically to police our villages, our community."

Part of that growing frustration is the piling of trash that continues to build through the many villages on Guam. During a recent Mayor's Council of Guam meeting, Freshman Senator Telena Cruz Nelson addressed the matter. She said, "From my understanding, you received a stipend previously and for collecting white goods and larger couches and so forth, so I think that was taken away, that funding. So I want to address that to see what we can do to pass policy, so you get that policy back because I know it's a very big issues within the villages for illegal dumping."

And for Mayors Council Executive Director Angel Sablan, it's an issue that's becoming harder to clean up. "The recycling issue is actually a big one and I get calls everyday, this two weeks from different mayors saying how come we can't put our white goods or our metals over to the recycling companies and they're refusing to accept it," he said.

He says a contract between EPA and the recycling companies was recently terminated. He adds the issue has become that recycling companies don't have any purchase orders from EPA, so they're refusing to take the trash- including metals, tires and white goods, that the mayors drop off. He further cites a recent law that EPA couldn't give out any more funds for these efforts until some master plan was approved by the Legislature.

Meanwhile aside from trash collection, the mayors are also concerned about enforcement of penalties and fines. Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares says she's given up on reporting anything to EPA because sometimes it takes almost a year to get to the court and often the culprit will only get a slap on the wrist.

"So, it's basically we have to fend for ourselves," she explained. "Now, when we find trash, I go look for the person, half of the time they don't live in Dededo, they live in Agana Heights (for example), and if they do live in Dededo, we knock on their doors and almost force them to get up."

Meanwhile, Mayor Gogue suggested lawmakers address the adjudication process to make sure the enforcement actually gets carried out. "So you may want to look at that - if the courts are not adjudicating this citation, then what's the glitch?" he questioned.

 Senator Nelson says she would collect information on the tipping fees, enforcement and prior legislation in hopes of introducing a bill to address the mayors' concerns.

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