Hundreds clean illegal dump on Guam

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Nestled in a secluded area between the stately Ironwood property on one side and a golf course on another, an illegal Dededo dump site rots away in the heat.

On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers and government employees associated with the Basta I Basula initiative rolled up their sleeves, dug in the muck and removed hundreds of pounds of plastic, household garbage, television sets, tires and more from the site on Saturday. And, despite all that work, it’s clear much still needs to be done to address issues with Guam’s solid waste.

John Taitano, a volunteer, said he was dismayed that fellow islanders would leave the site in such bad shape.

“This is our island, let’s take care of it. That’s all it is, pride,” he said. “Take ownership of what you have. Don’t do it like this.”

Edison Natividad, a volunteer who lives “just down the street” from the illegal dump site, likewise called on the community to police itself in regard to solid waste disposal.

“I think this is so sad because the community should own this place, but I guess they just use this (for) illegal dumping, which is unacceptable.”

The cleanup was organized by Gov. Eddie Calvo’s Basta I Basula initiative, which gathers pertinent government agencies including the Guam Environmental Protection Agency, the Islandwide Beautification Task Force, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Public Works and more to coordinate efforts to eliminate illegal dumping and dumpsites.

The affected area sits 20 to 30 feet above an aquifer that provides water to the entire island.

“People are illegally dumping because they can’t afford trash services, or it’s more convenient to go somewhere remote,” said Mark Calvo, chief of staff for Governor Calvo.

Mark Calvo also voiced his opinion on the federal receivership over Guam’s trash disposal, implying that the federal government’s handling of Guam’s solid waste has been inadequate.

“I’ve been asking staff to evaluate how many residential and commercial sites the receiver has registered paying for trash collection, versus how many actual residences and commercial sites there are on Guam,” he said. “I guarantee there’s a void. And in between, people are either complying, taking the garbage to a transfer point, or, in this case, not complying and dumping somewhere without being cited for it.”

According to Post files, the day-to-day operations of Guam’s solid waste management system have been in receivership since 2008 when the local government failed to meet court-ordered deadlines to close the Ordot Dump and establish a new landfill site.

Mark Calvo says the magnitude of Guam’s illegal-dumping problem leads him to support imposing fees on commercial goods entering Guam in order to fund an islandwide garbage collection service for all residents.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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