Andersen AAFB's open burn pit for toxic waste raises health concerns

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency (GEPA) must require Anderson Air Force Base (AAFB) to provide an environmental impact statement before allowing the military to continue the operations of an open burn/open detonation unit for treating hazardous waste, including ammunition and explosives, Sen. Sabina Flores Perez said.

“This facility has been in existence since October 30, 1980. However, data on the matter remains vague and the general public has little to no knowledge of its existence or impact," Perez said.

The senator wrote to GEPA, commenting on AAFB's application for a draft Resource and Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) permit to authorize the continued operation of the open burn facility.

Sen. Sabina Perez

"Our community has a right to know of the toxic releases, and an EIS will give our community insight to the overall damage these toxins have had and to move towards creating a healthy environment that sustains us all," Perez said.

The draft RCRA permit states that ‘the nature of OB/OD HW treatment on the EOD range does not provide for procedures to minimize releases to the atmosphere.’

“This is unacceptable and unconscionable to our community, given the known health impacts and considering cancer is one of the leading causes of death on our island," Perez said.

"The proximity of open burn/open detonation pits to one of our prime fishing grounds and farmlands and the migration of aerosolized hazardous chemicals to areas distant from the site carried by wind or water can be a means of toxic exposure to our island community,” Perez said.