*


4/25

tide-
marks a process-
ion of ten-
uous land

*

78 sites identified for contamination cleanup
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
Friday, 13 April 07

OF THE 78 old dump sites and chemical storage areas identified for
hazardous waste cleanup at Andersen Air Force Base, 30 have been cleared,
seven are in progress or pending, and 41 continue to be evaluated,
according to an environment official at AAFB.

Gregg Ikehara, chief of the Installation and Restoration Program for
AAFB’s environmental division, said environmental surveys have not shown
any areas where war chemical weapons might have been stored during World
War II and the Vietnam War.

Guam activists have been demanding that the military provide public
information on the status of the cleanup, suspecting that certain diseases
among local residents might have been caused by contamination of water,
ground and air from the storage of Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals.
A Vietnam War veteran, who has been doing research on toxic contamination
on Guam, earlier furnished Variety with old pictures of barrels stored on
base, which he said contained defoliants that were sprayed in Vietnam
during the war.

“We’ve not identified any area where chemical weapons might have been
stored. The barrels that have been found contained asphalt,” Ikehara said.
The base cleanup is mandated by the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Com-pensation and Liability Act, commonly known as the Superfund, which
was enacted by Congress on Dec. 11, 1980. This law created a tax on the
chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad federal authority to
respond directly to the release or threatened release of hazardous
substances that may endanger public health or the environment.

Over five years, $1.6 billion was collected and the tax went to a trust
fund for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites all
over the nation.

In 1992, AAFB was placed on the priority list, Ikehara said.
Among the sites that have been cleared so far were Marbo Annex, the
Ritidian dumpsite, land fill 2 and chemical storage area 4.

“These areas received immediate attention because of the potential impact
on groundwater,” Ikehara told a press conference.

Immediately after the press conference, Ikehara led members of the local
media on a tour of the old Urunao dumpsite, where the contractor, Shaw
Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., began the process of removing
hazardous waste from the area that held debris from the construction of
Northwest Field and North Field.

The cleanup began in February.

Ikehara, however, assured the public that the waste materials found at the
site were not likely to cause contamination in the surrounding
groundwater.

“If there was any contamination, it might have happened years ago. The
materials that we are looking at now are not mobile and not likely to get
down to the groundwater,” Ikehara said.

He said the waste that accumulated in the area was generated by
construction debris that was pushed over the edge of the cliff. “Back in
the 1940s, that practice was acceptable because environmental regulations
didn’t exist then,” Ikehara said.

During the tour of the site, Nestor Acedera, project manager for the
contractor Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., said his crew has
so far collected 1,000 rounds of discarded munitions from World War II and
old tires.

“We originally estimated that we would collect 3,000 rounds of ordnance at
the completion of the process. We just started the actual cleanup in
February and, this early, we have already collected 1,000. This means that
we will probably find more than 3,000,” Acedera said.

“The old tires that we collect will be transported to a recycling company,
while the munitions are disposed of by burning them,” he explained.

Ikehara said the Air Force has set a two-year target for the completion of
the Urunao dump cleanup. “It may take shorter time than that; or maybe
longer, depending on the complexity of the process,” he said.

So far, Ikehara said, there is no immediate plan for the use of the Urunao
property.

“There’s no future scenario until we know the footprint of future growth,”
Ikehara said. “There’s no immediate plan to return the land to the
original landowners.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s