Guam EPA Issues Cease & Desist Order to STX/Younex Over Violations at Ukudu Workforce Village

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Guam – The Guam Environmental Protection Agency has issued a Notice of Violation and a Cease and Desist order to STX Construction and Younex Enterprises halting any further work on any water or wasterwater systems at the Ukudu Workforce Village.

Read the NOV & Cease and Desist Order from GEPA to STX/Younex

The notice was issued late Tuesday afternoon in a letter issued by Guam EPA Administrator Elizabeth Cruz who told PNC News “What we’ve done is that we’ve noticed that construction has gone beyond what we thought the shell permit that was issued by DPW.” Cruz said “The modular homes actually include fixtures such as for the toilets and drinking water, that goes beyond the approval of the shell permit.”

“Guam EPA has its own independent authority to enforce to make sure there is compliance, that the piping is lead free, that we know what the connection and source is, so we have our own independent authority to stop the work.”

The Younex Workforce Village has been the subject of intense scrutiny by the U.S. EPA which has forcefully made its concerns known to the Federal Court because U.S. EPA fears that the more than 1-million gallons of sewage expected to be generated by the more than 15-thousand H-2 workers who will eventually occupy the village won’t overwhelm the nearby Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant [NWWTP]. That plant is already in violation of U.S. EPA sewage discharge limits.

The village is also crucial to the buildup, because without a place to house the bulk of H-2 workers coming to Guam, the buildup won’t get built.

Earlier this year, the  U.S. EPA raised a storm of protest over what it thought was a building permit issued Younex which DPW later claimed was only a shell permit, allowing for the assembly of the workforce housing units. There have been no hookups or attempts to hook up the water or wastewater systems from the housing unit to GWA’s system, yet.

Guam EPA’s objections now, have to do with what they found during an inspection on September 28th. Cruz says they found that the assembled shells were equipped with plumbing for water and wastwater, toilets, sinks, piping with fittings and fixtures already installed. None of which had been reviewed or authorized by Guam EPA.

According to the Notice of Violation, Guam EPA ruled that “the importation and construction of the toilet facilities and plumbing are in violation” of local construction law and the lead ban act.

Cruz said that STX/Younex has been given 15 days to explain what they are planning to do. “We haven’t been told what is the source of the water they’re going to take, how are they going to mitigate the impacts. If they just connect into the drinking water they would severely impact the service upstream and downstream such as the Hospital, Mental Health, LBJ, Tamuning Elementary as well as the other surrounding areas in the hotel district. So we’ve got to make make sure they explain through GWA how are they handling the drinking water through that project.”

Both Younex and DPW have repeatedly said that no water or wasterwater hookups will occur until the proper permits have been issued which won’t happen until the  NWWTP has been upgraded to handle the load. And that is at least a year or more away.

A statement from STX Project Manager Willie Flores states that “The work taking place at the site has been limited to that authorized under existing permits, and it is STX’s position that no violation has occurred, nor has there been any work beyond that which has been permitted.  This was confirmed by DPW at a recent inspection of the facility.

Read the full Response from STX/Younex to the Guam EPA’s NOV below:

On 16 Nov 2010 STX Construction Corporation was handed a Notice of Violation/Compliance Order instructing them to cease and desist on any water and wastewater system work.  The Notice of Violation/Compliance Order was delivered after 6:00 p.m. in the evening, past working hours.

The work taking place at the site has been limited to that authorized under existing permits, and it is STX’ position that no violation has occurred, nor has there been any work beyond that which has been permitted.  This was confirmed by DPW at a recent inspection of the facility.

The NOV/Compliance Order instructs that no water or wastewater services will be provided without GEPA’s approval and review – that approval and review has been with GEPA for at least six months.  STX and its consultants have also been in active dialogue with GEPA and GWA regarding the permits, and will continue this active dialogue until this issue is resolved.

STX Construction Corporation is currently reviewing the 13-page document received last evening, and will respond appropriately.