Secondary Treatment Needed to Eradicate Pungent Landfill Smell


Until secondary treatment is implemented, that pungent smell coming from human waste will continue to linger at the Layon Landfill.

Guam – Efforts have been made to mitigate the smell coming from the Layon Landfill, but is it enough? Last September we reported that Inarajan Middle School students and staff complained about the smell. The issue was brought up in court last week but stakeholders say until secondary treatment is achieved, the pungent smell of human waste will continue to linger.


798 tons. That’s how much bio-solids or human waste is dumped in the Layon Landfill every month. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in 2011, when the landfill first opened, the Guam Waterworks Authority was only sending down about 145 tons every month. GWA Spokeswoman Heidi Ballendorf explains why the sudden increase. 


“The way we’re treating the bio solids, the chemnicals that we’re using are heavier, it’s making the solids heavier,” says Ballendorf.

But even with the chemical treatment, the sludge still emits a foul odor. Chace Anderson, the Operations Manager for Solid Waste Federal Receivers Gershman Brickner and Bratton says there was at one point when the smell was much worse. The only solution that could eliminate the foul smell completely would be a secondary treatment facility.

Right now only the Northern Waste Water Treatment Plant is capable of secondary treatment. The other plants on Guam have no secondary treatment, which would essentially dry the bio-solids. 

“What that will do is reduce the volume of material that goes down to the Layon Landfill they say by approximately 30 percent. That’ll be great. That’d save on hauling, that’d save on tipping fees and obviously there’d be less material in the landfill. But it will also decrease the amount of smell that we now have with that sludge,” explains Anderson.

GWA does in fact dry the solids, but only at a meager 28 percent, which Anderson described as similar to a “big bowl of jello.”

“With the secondary process it’ll become more like earth,” he notes.


In the meantime, Anderson says GSWA is working with GWA to find ways to reduce the pungent smell. 

“One is if we can get that material into the Layon Landfill when we have the most trash, not at the end of the day but in the mid-morning, then we can mix that with the trash so that helps suffocate the smells so to speak,” says Anderson.

Anderson says they also have a contractor they’re working with to build a perimeter that would also help mitigate the smell. But until GWA can get funding for secondary treatment plants, that’s really all that can be done.

So how much money will they need? 

“Well we’re gonna spend $65 million in Agat and Santa Rita for the plant down there, that will be a secondary treatment plant,” says Ballendorf.

“For this one I would think it’d be somewhere around $100 million because that’s how much it’s gonna cost northern is about $110 million dollars,” she adds.






  1. Speaking of smells, why isn’t there any coverage of the plea deal struck between the government and the Rodriguez’s? This is a big story of corruption at the very worst. Dennis Rodriguez Sr. and his wife willfully failed to pay income taxes for multiple years. That amount came to $2.3 million dollars. They turn around and offered to pay the government $40,000. Can you imagine the arrogance these 2 individuals must have to offer 17 cents for every dollar they owed! The fact that these 2 aren’t sitting behind bars is another question that needs to be answered. How then does a ruling like this motivate the regular hard working individual to pay his or her taxes? There is anger in the community and we deserve to at least know that the Rodgriquez’s are being held accountable for cheating the government.

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