Digging deep into illegal dumping

Illegal dumping has long been an issue for the island community. (PNC file photo)

By Josh Tyquiengco

How can Guam curb its growing problem of illegal dumping?

That’s what several leaders and agencies want to solve as they gathered together Wednesday afternoon at the Guam Congress building.

Illegal dumping has long been an issue for the island community and it’s a subject that Senator Sabina Perez needed to address at a roundtable discussion with the Mayors Council of Guam, Guam Solid Waste Authority, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, and other environmental stakeholders.

They dug right to the root causes of the issue and ways to educate the public.

MCOG Executive Director Angel Sablan says one of the main root causes is that many residents cannot afford the monthly fee to dispose of their trash.

“One of the main root causes of illegal dumping is disposal fees. Residents just don’t want to pay for the disposal of trash. In fact, many of those who dump illegally do not even have a trash bin. Again because they cannot afford a monthly fee,” Sablan said.

Sablan says unenforceable citations is another cause. He asked how many residents have been convicted of illegal dumping or caught and recommended checking court records.

He also noted the closing of the Dededo transfer station, a complete disregard for recycling efforts, and consumerism which have all contributed to the problem of illegal dumping.

Mayor Rudy Paco says there just needs to be better enforcement overall.

“What it all boils down to is that we need to be a little bit more harsh with these people that do illegal dumping,” Paco said.

Inadequate trash containment at housing areas is also another concern.

GHURA executive director Ray Topasna says there is a serious illegal dumping problem in some of their developments. He feels a lack of education is a contributing factor.

“But basically what we discovered with our public housing program is that they are still dumping even though we’re paying for their trash pick-up,” Topasna said.

Senator Perez also asked GSWA General manager Larry Gast about the costs of the Dededo transfer station and the possibility of reopening it.

“I would have to investigate that but you have to remember that we have three transfer stations that are residential only and one commercial transfer station. The entire Orange County had two transfer stations for a million people,” Gast said.

Gast also stated that mandatory collection rates could be reduced if there was another funding source. At this point, he said GSWA is barely making revenue for expenses.