Guam AG Says Concerns Raised by U.S. EPA Over Ukudu Village Inaccurate

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Guam -The Guam Attorney General says that a Status Report filed by the U.S. EPA raising concerns about the Ukudu Workforce Village is “replete with inaccuracies which require clarification.”

And while acknowledging that a July 12th permit “clearly appears to be an improperly issued ‘Building Permit.'”  The Guam Attorney General now asserts that that “purported ‘Building Permit'” was only a “draft,” and does not need to be revoked.

The Guam AG’s response was filed Friday in answer to the U.S. EPA ‘s August 11th Status Report and request for a hearing.  U.S. EPA asked for the hearing after obtaining a copy of the “permit to construct” issued to Younex for the Ukudu Workforce Village by  Department of Public Works inspector Jesus Ninete.

Read the July 12th “purported ‘Building Permit'” issued by Ninete attached as Exhibit 1 to declaration from the  U.S. EPA’s Michael Lee

The U.S. EPA, represented by Department of Justice Attorney for Environmental Enforcement, Robert Mullaney,  questioned Ninete’s July 12th permit. Mullaney asked why it was not signed off on by the Guam Waterworks Authority or Guam EPA. And he wrote that the permitting fee appeared to have been waived.  “We remain concerned that DPW’s permitting process for the Younex project appeared to curtail review by both GWA and Guam EPA,” states Mullaney.

Read Mullaney’s Request for a Status Hearing

The Ukudu Village will house up to 15-thousand H-2 workers slated to come to Guam to work on projects related to the military buildup. U.S. EPA is especially concerned that the Ukudu Village’s estimated 1-million gallons a day of sewage, will place an overwhelming burden on the already over-burdened Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In its Friday response, Assistant Attorney General Kathy Fokas states that the Building Permit cited by the U.S. EPA “clearly appears to be an improperly issued ‘Building Permit.'”  However, she claims, “It is GovGuam’s position that a ‘Building Permit’ has clearly not been issued by DPW.”

The  “purported ‘Building Permit'” was only a “draft” that was “prepared by a DPW employee in anticipation of a meeting on July 12.

The DPW employee” she writes, “simply mirrored the language from the original building permit application in his attempt to have a document ready for the meeting.”

The DPW employee who prepared the “draft” is not named.

Read the AG’s response to U.S. EPA                          

This is the first reference to the July 12th permit as being a “draft.”

In July, DPW Director Andy Leon Guerrero and Younex Vice President Dave Tydingco never referred to it as a “draft” permit. And they both emphasized that they all understood that the “purported ‘Building Permit'” issued by Ninete was a  “shell permit, ” even though “new building” rather than “shell” was checked on the permit. And both Leon Guerrero and Tydingco affirmed that they understood that Ninete’s “purported ‘Building Permit'” did not authorize water or sewer hookups.

In addition, Leon Guerrero stated at the time, on more than one occasion, that he expected the AG to order him to revoke Ninete’s “purported ‘Building Permit'” and re-issue it to resolve U.S. EPA’s questions about it. But that never happened.

What happened, says Fokas,  is that Ninete himself “revised the ‘draft’ application document prepared by his employee by crossing out ‘New Building’ and substituting therefor, ‘to erect bldg. shell only,'” and making other changes reflecting that it was a shell permit only.

But not even Ninete’s declaration regarding the changes he made refers to the “purported ‘Building Permit'” as a “draft” permit.  Instead he oddly declares that the July 12th permit, with his signature on it,  ” was not the permit issued by DPW on July 12.”   There is no reference in his declaration to it being a “draft.”

Read Ninete’s Declaration and the revised permit he issued

Fokas writes that “GovGuam does not consider it necessary to revoke the permit issued on July 12th” because the actual permit issued on July 12th was a “shell only” permit, therefore the revocation of a building permit is not necessary “because no building permit has been issued.”

Fokas also writes that at a July 12th meeting with DPW  “Younex’s request for a ‘shell only’ permit pending the issuance of a ‘Building Permit'” was discussed “as a way to keep the project moving, pending the issuance of a ‘Building Permit.'” 

“Younex understood the risks involved,” she writes, “including the risk that it may not be allowed  to install any water, sewer or electrical utilities, and was willing to assume those risks.”