Community weighs in on Guam’s US Supreme Court win in Ordot Dump case

Guam’s case seeks to hold the US Navy accountable for their share of dumping toxic waste at the Ordot Dump. (PNC file photo)

The Supreme Court has allowed the government to seek compensation from the Navy for the cleanup of the Ordot Dump.

Describing it as an emotional and a huge win for Guam, the community has weighed in on the Supreme Court decision.

At the center is the community of Ordot-Chalan Pago whose residents live in proximity to the dump and who bore witness to efforts to close the site which has been described as an environmental and health hazard to the community.

Mayor Jessy Gogue of Ordot-Chalan Pago, in an interview with Patti Arroyo at NewsTalk K57, says his family is tied to the community and those who grew up in the area saw the adverse effects of the dump to the nearby Lonfit river which feeds into Pago Bay.

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“So having been raised in this village and my family spending most of their days smelling that dump, this is huge. What was huge for us more than anything … even though there was some resistance in how it was done … what was huge for us and a huge win was the assignment of a receiver to get that dump closed.  Now that it is closed, I feel some redemption on the part of the people of Guam in holding everybody, including the military accountable for what is in that unregulated dumpsite,” Gogue said.

Gogue says he has the confidence in the island’s leadership that we will see some sort of compensation come to Guam for the payment of the closure of the dump.

Meanwhile, Ray Chaco, a former resident of the area from 1995 to around 2016 to 2017, describes what it was like living near the dump.

“In those times, there’s a lot of things. When there’s a fire happening at the dump … I remember being evacuated and we were housed at the Cliff Hotel. But for the most part, it happened a few times in the years that we were there. The other thing that affected almost everyone in Ordot was the smell. The odor was not good and it was there for as long as I could remember,” Chaco said.

While there may be repercussions to the prolonged exposure of the community to the dump, Mayor Gogue says that there has been no discussion about a class action lawsuit yet. Before, he said it was more of a fight to get the dump closed permanently.

But Mayor Gogue says that there have been a half dozen homes in the area when the dump was still active. At this point, he said none of the families have approached him about the possibility of filing a lawsuit against any entity.