Guam - Decades of mounting trash, fires, a lingering stench, a court order and a federal receiver all led to the eventual closure of the Ordot Dump. The island's waste is now taken to the Layon landfill. 

After repeat violations of the Clean Water Act came the closure of Ordot Dump more than two months ago, and since then the Layon Landfill has been open for operation. According to landfill manager Norm Kivett, Guam's waste is in good hands with the new Inarajan facility. "It's protecting their groundwater here to a better extent than Ordot was," he said.

Explaining the difference between a landfill and a dump, Kivett said, "A landfill is an engineered facility - it's designed to take waste dumps. There's probably a bunch of them on the island where people just throw it out and it gets covered up by the jungle. Ordot was just a place they started throwing waste, and it just ended up there."

Landfills are specifically designed with caps and liners. Caps keep moisture out and liners keep leachate, or liquids that go through the waste, from contaminating our groundwater. "The leachate is the liquid that goes through the trash, and it goes underneath the raincap, soaks through that protective layer down to the liner, and feeds on down to the leachate tank," he explained.

Wells located along the landfill pick up the leachate and are tested twice a week. The landfill is also equipped with gas probes to check if methane is migrating. "When the waste breaks down it creates methane - landfill gas," he said.

The landfill currently extends 22 acres, or 2 cells large, which Kivett predicts will last seven years. The ultimate plan is to extend up to 120 acres large with 11 total cells. Kivett says the landfill is strict about weighing waste. "The trucks come in they go through the radiation detection, they move up onto the scales which they are weighed, so we know the amount of waste we're actually getting here at the landfill," he said. "You need to know how much you're actually getting so you can figure out how long the life expectancy is going to be."

About 300 tons is collected daily from up to 30 trucks from the island's transfer stations. Kivett expects Layon to sustain the island for up to 50 years, but with greener efforts, maybe more. "The more you recycle, the less will go into the landfill…with recycling, landfills can last a long time," he said.