The government of Guam will finally regain control of the island's solid waste operations
following a federal court decision on Tuesday lifting the almost a decade-long federal receivership that cost millions.
Chief Federal Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood said the court does not intend to extend the receivership when Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. or GBB terminates its services by the end of the year.
As the transition period begins, Tydingco-Gatewood ordered the Guam Solid Waste Authority board to begin taking a more active role in solid waste system operations, which has an annual budget of $20 million.
The court ordered all their departments and agencies “to continue to cooperate with the receiver’s efforts to responsibly and expeditiously complete the remaining consent decree projects and resolve all remaining transition tasks.”
The GSWA board was instructed by the court to update the agency’s rules and regulations, seek approval of GSWA’s rates from the Public Utilities Commission, and work to either transition the temporary staff to more permanent positions or to maintain their employment with Pacific Human Resources Inc.
GBB was appointed federal receiver on March 17, 2008, resulting from Guam’s failure to comply with a 2004 consent decree that stemmed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit for violation of the Clean Water Act. The case goes back to 1986, when EPA issued an administrative order directing the island's Department of Public Works to cease the discharge of leachate from the Ordot Dump.
Twenty-two years later, the Ordot Dump, the island's only municipal site for solid waste disposal, continued to leach contaminants, posing an environmental and health hazard.
In its quarterly report on May 17 — which marked the ninth year of federal receivership— GBB reported its accomplishments since the closure of Ordot Dump and the opening of Layon Landfill.
“During the reporting period, more than 5.4 million gallons of leachate had been captured and diverted from Guam’s groundwater and the Lonfit River for proper treatment and disposal, bringing the total to over 14.3 million gallons collected since the new sewer line system was installed in January 2015,” GBB said in the report.
EPA is expected to approve its post-closure care plan by the end of summer, the report said.
GBB said environmental testing and monitoring results confirmed that the Layon Landfill meets all applicable environmental standards and regulations. “During the six months covered in the report, the landfill received 51,313.23 tons of municipal solid waste, which is 4.07 percent higher when compared to the same period in 2015,” the report said.
“A surge tank was installed to assist the Guam Waterworks authority in the proper management of leachate at the Inarajan waste water treatment plant, and the receiver hopes this should be in operation before the end of the month.”
The court is satisfied with GBB’s accomplishments over the last two reporting periods. “The court is proud of the Receiver’s reported progress. The court commends all GSWA employees, from the trash collection crews to the scale house operators and the customer service representatives, who continue to contribute to the GSWA’s success,” the court decision reads.
Read the federal court's order here.