US Supreme Court agrees to hear Guam’s Ordot Dump case

Guam’s case seeks to hold the US Navy accountable for their share of dumping toxic waste at the Ordot Dump. (PNC file photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Guam’s case that seeks to hold the US Navy accountable for their share of dumping toxic waste at the Ordot Dump, the Attorney General’s Office announced.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case. This shows that the issues are significant locally and nationally and we look forward to presenting our arguments to the Court,” said Attorney General Leevin T. Camacho in a statement.

According to the AG, Guam’s CERCLA case against the US Navy’s use of the Ordot Dump is just one of just 70 cases that are heard among 8,000 filed each year.

The Supreme Court of the United States accepts less than 1% of the cases they are asked to review, or only about 70 cases out of the 7,000 to 8,000 petitions filed each term.

In 2017, Guam sued the U.S. Navy as a “potential responsible party,” requesting they be held liable for remedial action under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The Guam Attorney General’s Office has argued that the Supreme Court should accept the case in order to resolve conflicting decisions between the federal courts on when the statute of limitations under CERCLA begins.

Guam emphasizes in its argument that the D.C. Circuit’s earlier decision on the case “saddles Guam—alone—with a staggering $160 million bill for the cleanup of a dump built and exploited by the United States for decades,” an amount that “exceeds the combined yearly budget for Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services, Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Public Works, Solid Waste Authority, and Environmental Protection Agency.”

Guam and the United States will now submit briefs on the merits of the case. Oral arguments are likely to take place in April, the AG stated.