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Tiyan contamination lingers

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THE Five-Year Review of Base Realignment and Closure Sites has revealed continued lead-based paint residue contamination in Tiyan.

Although the degree of contamination did not reach a dangerous level, the affected area is still not recommended for residential use as officials advised against prolonged exposure.

The continued contamination of the soil in Tiyan and other areas was discussed at last night’s Navy Area-Wide Restoration Advisory Board meeting.

Naval Facilities (NAVFAC) Engineering Command presented an update on the five-year review, which began in 2012 and is due for completion.

No secret

Eric Palacios, Guam Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said information about the soil contamination in Tiyan was made public when then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez accepted the quitclaim deeds. “It was no secret,” he said.

Palacios added there had been education outreaches to inform the land owners about the contamination.

Palacios explained the deeds stated the land was for commercial or industrial use, but the responsibility to maintain the property was in the hands of the owners.

The military had turned over the land with the impression it would be used for a roadway.

Tiyan is also home to Erica’s House and the Asmuyao Academy, both frequented by children.

Safety procedures

Walter Leon Guerrero, GEPA program coordinator, said there are procedures property owners can follow to meet health standards and make the area safe.

The GEPA officials said they will address issues in the future with new public educational campaigns.

In addition, they are actively pursuing new equipment and training for improved testing for contaminants.

Parcels of land in Tiyan, currently under the Guam International Airport Authority, were handed over to their original owners several years ago. However, the land which was deemed for commercial and industrial use was never meant to be used for residential purposes.

Site testing

The five-year review examines sites that had previously housed military bases but have since relocated or closed. It assesses land use controls’ effectiveness and determines which need to be updated or changed to provide protection for human health and the environment. NAVFAC works with GEPA for this part.

Land use controls limit how people use the properties to prevent exposure to contaminants that still remain in place after the environmental restoration process.

Started in 1994, a total of 48 sites have been studied. Of the 48 sites, 12 currently have land use controls in place that still protect human health and the environment.

Other areas which have been found to have possible human health and environmental hazards are the Agana Power Plant, the former aircraft graveyard, and the ground support equipment maintenance facility.

All documents and reports are available at the Nieves Flores Memorial Library in Hagåtña for comment and review.

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