Senators put Guam Invasive Species Council on the hot seat - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Senators put Guam Invasive Species Council on the hot seat

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Island lawmakers are putting pressure on the Guam Invasive Species Council, yesterday grilling them on everything from funding, staffing, and their plan of action. Questions were raised about what's being done to mitigate incoming invasive species. In yesterday's oversight hearing it was revealed that two new invasive species enter the island every month.

Chief of the Department of Agriculture's BioSecurity Division Russell Campbell says $750,000 in funding was intended for the building of an inspection facility at the port - but the council was scrutinized as the projected $2 million they were to generate from inspection fees has never hit that mark. According to Campbell there isn't enough staff to account for the weight tonnage and their matching the fees.

"Every container that comes off of a ship goes to the containers warehouse goes to the side of the road next to the importer's store or whatever and it's opened up there and it has to be inspected there. Meaning that if you open the door and if there's anything inside a female coconut rhinoceros beetle sees the door open and the lights shine in they can just fly away," he said.

Campbell also noted he hasn't seen this in any other jurisdiction and that Guam is need of this kind of facility for its efforts to combat invasive species. "So that container loads that are brought off of maritime ships would have a place where they could be taken into the doors cold be close it's a safe room in which you could open the container, off load parts of the cargo and do your inspections there," he said.

Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje shed light on Guam Customs and Quarantine and why they don't have a 100 percent inspection rate. Customs Director Jim McDonald confirmed - stating the agency uses smart technology to assist with the inspections and that inspections are also based on the cargo manifest.

The use of air curtain burners to assist as an immediate solution for invasive species mitigation was also brought up, but Senator Wil Castro asked the council what their long term plans were.

Campbell says ultimately composting is the long term solution, noting, "Using temperature controls and turning the piles regularly in such a way that it will heat the pile up and limit the invasive species."

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