Guam - On Friday, work on the Younex Workforce Village Project will be ordered to cease.  According to court documents filed by the federal government, on July 12 the Department of Public Works - without the approval of the Guam Environmental Protection Agency or the Guam Waterworks Authority - issued a building permit to Younex, the company behind the Ukudu Workforce Village being constructed in the Harmon Annex.  

But a permit and a subsequent site inspection by EPA environmental engineer Michael Lee ignited the USEPA's concerns that the project could "soon place an added strain on GWA's already fragile drinking water and wastewater systems", and prompted DPW to reexamine the issuance.  DPW Director Andy Leon Guerrero says the permit should be revoked by tomorrow, telling KUAM News, "We're not doing that because we think we did something wrong or we think we did anything illegal, because we certainly didn't.  But we had a conference call with GWA, the AG's Office, the USEPA, and ourselves, and that seemed at least at this point in time the course we're going to take."

Younex Vice-President Dave Tydingco says the July permit is limited, only authorizing the firm to secure modular units that are already there to concrete foundations, and adding that the company has no plans to proceed with water or power hookups until they receive the green light from the utility agencies.

"This was the prudent thing to do," Tydingco said. "If we don't do it and a typhoon comes, potentially we could jeopardize the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant because it's up there. Our modular systems are next door to it and we want to make sure they're secure and do not create a hazard."

Head of design and permitting for the project William Flores says it's not uncommon for projects like this to proceed in phases, and that to wait for GWA to implement wastewater solutions before moving forward with anything would put the entire project behind.  "Let's say those negotiations take six to nine more months before everything is finalized," Flores speculated. "If we don't start and be ready by the time they finalize those, then we'd lose another six to nine months and then we'd be stuck with this timeline."

Younex attorney Ike Aguigui today wrote a letter to Leon Guerrero, stating the revocation is unwarranted and that should he proceed.  By law, formal written notice must be provided to his client.

The USEPA has asked the judge to schedule another status hearing where they'll determine the legality of the permits. And hopefully that'll clear up how Younex, DPW, and GWA should proceed.