Guam -The U.S. Department of Justice is threatening an injunction against the Younex Workforce Village and raising doubts about a permit issued by Department of Public Works inspector Jesus Ninete for the project.
The injunction threat and the doubts about the permit are contained in DoJ’s reply to the Guam Attorney General’s argument that the July 12th permit issued by Ninete was only a “draft.”
DoJ’s response was filed Saturday in District Court. In it, U.S. Department of Justice Attorney for Environmental Enforcement, Robert Mullaney writes:
“The United States expressly puts GovGuam and GWA on notice as to further actions the United States may take in the future.”
And “The United States reserves the right to seek to enjoin further construction of the Younex project or to object to sewer connections and drinking water hook-ups to the Younex project if GovGuam and GWA fail to demonstrate both that 1) sufficient capacity exists to transport and treat effluent from the project….2) sufficient water supply and transmission capacity exists.
The focus of the controversy is on the July 12th permit issued by DPW Inspector Ninete.
Thoughout DoJ’s response, Mullaney refers to the AG’s characterization of the permit as a “draft” in quotes, and in all other instances refers to the questioned permit as a “building permit.”
Among the doubts raised by Mullaney about the “draft” permit are:
*”Mr. Ninete did not explain in his declaration why the July 12 ‘draft’ building permit was signed by Sandie Diaz on behalf of DPW”
*”how that ‘draft’ permit was obtained by Younex”
* “why it was posted at the Younex construction site when Guam EPA inspected the site”
* “or when or if DPW had even presented the marked-up ‘shell only’ building permit to Younex.”
The Guam Attorney General argued in its response that “shell only” permits are an accepted type of “phase permitting.”
But Mullaney responds that Ninete himself in his declaration explained that “shell only” permits have historically been used on Guam for “single family homes in stages on family land. The Younex project.” write Mullaney, ” is obviously not for a single-family home.”
Mullaney also states that: “On September 16th we asked GovGuam whether a “shell only” permit had ever been issued to a project of this size … GovGuam responded that it had not been previously issued.”
And he argues that “under GovGuam’s interpretation, the ‘Shell Only’ permit apparently allows Younex to substantially complete construction of its $124 million dollar project with no environmental review.” and “apparently with little or no consideration of drinking water or wastewater needs associated with the project.”
“Despite GovGuam’s representation that Younex “assumes the risk” that it may not be allowed to install water or sewer utilities,” Mullaney writes that “it appears that the public ultimately will bear the risk that there will not be adequate drinking water or wastewater capacity for a project of this size.”
In sum, Mullaney concludes that :
“By issuing a ‘shell only’ permit to the Younex project, DPW has created a situation in which Younex will be able to substantially complete construction of a $124 million project without any input from either GWA or Guam EPA. By allowing the project to be constructed except for utility hook-ups, DPW has placed both GWA and Guam EPA in a difficult position in which these agencies may be compelled to approve connections even though sufficient water and wastewater capacity is not available.”
DoJ is asking the court to closely monitor permitting decisions by DPW,GWA and Guam EPA for both the Younex project and and other project described in a building application that could impact GWA’s water supply or wastewater treatment capacity. And DoJ has asked the court to schedule a status hearing to discuss DPW’s permitting process and the Younex project.