Bill would give AG power to hire private lawyer, sue for military-related contamination
By KUAM News
Sen. Therese Terlaje has introduced Bill 163
, which would strengthen protections for Guam's environment and cultural and historic properties, according to Terlaje's office.
Bill 163 would allow the Attorney General's office to hire a private lawyer for the purpose of litigation "on behalf of Guam" related to Agent Orange, PCB's, radiation and Superfund sites on island.
The measure would also allow the lawyer to pursue litigation for violations of the National Historic Preservation Act relative to Guam's cultural and historical properties, a release from Senator Terlaje said.
The lawyer would be hired on a contingency basis. According to the bill, the lawyer would be paid no more than 1/3 of any money recovered if a lawsuit is successful.
Bill 163 comes after news of the recent discovery of
more ancient CHamoru artifacts on buildup-related construction sites. After artifacts are collected from those sites, construction will continue, according to State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon.
Several former US military personnel who served on Guam confirmed they sprayed the toxic Agent Orange herbicide while they were stationed on Guam. Agent Orange causes numerous cancers and birth defects.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, there are at least three Superfund sites on Guam.
Guam also has a history of PCB contamination tied to the military's presence on Guam.
"We must pursue every avenue possible to ensure our cultural and historic sites are protected from destruction and that our environment is safeguarded," Terlaje said in a release. "Our agencies often need legal assistance immediately or complex litigation, and this will give the Attorney General flexibility to explore all avenues of providing urgent legal response on behalf of the people of Guam."