PAG confirms loss of documents in warehouse fire; adopts stricter policy in securing papers

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Port General Manager Rory J. Respicio speaks to the board during a monthly meeting held at the Port Authority of Guam. (PAG file photo)

At the Port Authority of Guam board meeting this week, port general manager Rory Respicio informed the board that the DeWitt warehouse fire last May 12 destroyed records stored in their records management section, which includes critical PAG documents.

According to Respicio, DeWitt reported that the fire and water damage was extensive and nothing seems to be salvageable.

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He described the extent of the damage of the warehouse fire: “What this means for the Port is that most of the documents have been digitized. However, the documents that were stored there that were not digitized were the shipping documents, fiscal year 2015 to 2020, under a retention schedule of 6 years. Port police log books — these are actual record books so they could not be digitized — from FY 1989 to FY 2017 and there is a permanent retention required. The harbor masters’ radio station logbooks, also logbooks that could not have been digitized from fiscal year 1995 to 1998.

Respicio says that the destruction of the files caused irreparable loss to the Port because the documents provide historical perspective to the Port’s policy initiatives.

Later, the board approved a resolution detailing how the Port Authority would move forward in securing its documents. Respicio says the proposed policy mirrors current statutes but with additional provisions.

“The only difference here is that the board of directors affirm that all key PAG records as defined by the law shall be electronically copied and digitally filed and detailed and all original and physical records which have been electronically scanned shall remain physically filed and restored at the Port Authority of Guam and shall not leave or be released from the Port property without written approval from the general manager,” Respicio said.

The DeWitt warehouse fire dragged for two days with white smoke billowing out of the site causing discomfort in nearby areas and school officials decided to cancel classes at nearby Chief Brodie School and JFK High School.

GFD had said that the longevity of the fire was due to the fact that it was “deep-seated.”

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