DPW Finds No Violations At Workforce Village, But AG Wants Permit Pulled and Feds Want A Court Hearing

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Guam – The Department of  Public Works Friday inspected the Younex Workforce Village site and concluded that all the work being conducted is in compliance with the 2 limited permits that have been issued.

Still, DPW Director Andy Leon Guerrero said a stop work order will probably be issued Monday at the request of the Guam Attorney General’s Office.

“Everything I’ve seen so far is in compliance,” said Leon Guerrero after his tour Friday morning.

The ongoing  work being done now falls under 2 permits issued this year. The first one issued in January allowed allowed grading of the land. The second issued in May allows for foundation work..

“We already have a signed off permit for clearing, grading and a foundation,” said Younex Vice President David Tydingco, “and EPA signed off on that. So we can continue pouring  foundations here and concrete.”

However,  its the third permit, “partial construction permit” issued on July 12th, that is the cause of the controversy. It was not signed off on by any other agency but DPW. It was approved by Jesus Ninete.

This third permit allows Younex to begin assembly of the housing units or “shells” by anchoring them to the concrete foundations that are being poured now. They want to do that, says Tydingco, in order to secure them in the event a typhoon comes.

“The new permit,” explains Tydingco, “allows us to take these modules, set them on and secure them on the foundations. And we haven’t done any of that work yet. We’ll work closely with DPW the AG’s office and any other concerned party. Because we want to make sure we’re dotting i’s and crossing t’s with them and living within the boundaries of the permits that have been issued.”

However, U.S. EPA has raised questions about how that third permit got issued.

In his request for a hearing before District Court Judge Francis Tydingco Gatewood, Department of Justice Attorney for Environmental Enforcement, Robert Mullaney wrote: “We remain concerned that DPW’s permitting process for the Younex project appeared to curtail review by both GWA and Guam EPA.”

Read Mullaney’s Request for a Status Hearing

And the DPW Director acknowledged that “One of the issues that were facing right now is that GWA is adamant that they need to sign off on this partial permit.”

But he defended Jesus Ninete’s decision to issue the permit. “Mr. Ninete at DPW,  who has over 30 years experience, has had instances in the past where these sort of permits have been issued and did not require the signatures of any other agencies.”

“Until they come to DPW for a permit to actually complete the shells and the housing, then that is when all those other agencies come into play, GWA, EPA and all the agencies involved to make sure that the contractor follows all the rules and regulations within those agencies.”

Having said that though, Leon Guerrero also said that “We’re going to go ahead and, through the recommendation of the AG’s Office, probably by Monday, issue a stop work order.”

But the DPW Director emphasized “I want to also add this,  I’m going to work closely with the AG and give him DPW’s interpretation of everything. And we’ll see what happens after that.”

Of course the concern that the U.S. EPA has is what happens when the Village is completed,  hooked up to the sewer system, and occupied by 15-thousand H-2 workers who are coming to build the buildup.

Its estimated that the Village will generate as much as a million gallons of wastewater a day. That’s what the U.S. EPA is worried about. More sewage running through the already over-burdened Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant.

But Tydingco argues the permit in question does not authorize sewer or water hook ups.

“Our intent was never, ever, to hook up water, power, sewer, because we know we don’t have the permits. And we are working very closely with those agencies to ensure permits are issued before we execute.”

And even though Younex’s Attorney, Ignacio Aguigui, has threatened possible legal action and called for a hearing before any revocation of the July 12th permit,  Tydignco said that’s on hold, for now.

“We have no intention to go to court at this time. In the letter that our attorney prepared, he,  in the last paragraph,  suggested lets all get together, lets understand clearly what the issues are, lets make sure that we satisfy the concerns of parties that have raised this issue and,  from there, lets take the next step, lets move forward.”