Guam – Larry Gast, general manager of the Guam Solid Waste Authority (GSWA), is endorsing the construction of a waste-to-energy plant on Guam, which he said would generate electricity and greatly reduce the amount of waste that would end up in the landfill.
Speaking at the Rotary Club of Northern Guam’s membership meeting on Wednesday, Gast noted that Layon landfill has limited space and it’s only a matter of time before Guam hits a crisis that would require the construction of a new waste facility.
Last year, the Guam Resource Recovery Partners announced it was moving forward with its long-stalled waste-to-energy project, for which it was granted a license in 1996.
The government-issued license authorized GRRP to build an incinerator in Guatali that would convert garbage to electricity. The project, however, was impeded by a subsequent law that prohibits trash-burning facilities on Guam.
In July 2015, then governor Eddie Calvo signed an agreement with GRRP, paving the way for the company to resume the project provided the legislature granted an exemption to the law.
In endorsing the waste-to-energy option, Gast cited the cost of building a landfill.
In the United States, he said, it costs around $380,000 an acre to build a landfill. Before he came to Guam, Gast said it would cost around $1.3 million an acre to construct a landfill.
Currently, GSWA is in the process of constructing a 13-acre cell at the Layon landfill.
Gast spoke to the Rotary Club about the complexities of the sanitation industry and what he hopes to achieve during his contract.
Gast is a solid waste manager from Florida and has replaced former GSWA general manager Greg Martin, who resigned in August.
One of issues Gast discussed concerned the shipping of garbage from Guam. Because of China’s recent ban on foreign garbage, shipping refuse from Guam has become more costly with shipment rates in some cases costing more than the waste being transported.
Other countries, however, such as Vietnam and India, are still accepting foreign waste.
Gast said one of things he would like to establish is an elementary program that would educate students about the waste system and how to properly dispose of their waste.
Although Gast is scheduled to fulfill a three-year contract here, he said he hopes to make Guam a better place to live.
“I’m looking 15 years in the future,” Gast said. “When I leave a place, it’s going to be left better than when I got there. That’s just the way that I look at it.”