Environmental crime hurts us in many ways, and there have been recent examples of some of the more blatant acts we’ve seen in a while.
When environmental crimes result in polluted seas and the smothering of our reef, it hurts our ability to fish and negatively impacts our tourists' enjoyment of our marine life.
When an environmental misdeed ends up contaminating our underground source of drinking water, our health is threatened.
A more recent Guam case involved a Japanese fishing vessel that had been plying the Western Pacific waters for decades. When it pulled into Guam’s Apra Harbor in April, a subsequent Coast Guard investigation found out that the Fukuichi Maru No. 112 had been dumping waste oil into the sea and then attempted to cover up those discharges, in part by altering its records of waste-oil discharge, the U.S. Department of Justice stated.
The company will be banned from entering Guam's exclusive economic zone, territorial sea, or a port or terminal belonging to the United States without prior approval, according to the Justice Department.
The case was investigated by U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Guam, with assistance from the Coast Guard Investigative Service.
Another allegation of environmental harm surfaced just a few days ago. The Guam Daily Post reported on photos of residue from drums containing aqueous film-forming foam being disposed of into a storm drain in Tiyan, on property within the jurisdiction of the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority.
The Guam Environmental Protection Agency has launched an investigation into the alleged dumping of the chemical. This type of foam, used in airport firefighting, has the potential to create an adverse environmental impact if released uncontrolled into the environment, particularly if the foam solutions reach drinking water sources, groundwater or surface waters, the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council states.
Airport Executive Manager Tom Ada said the foamy substance seen in the photographs – disposed of through a storm drain – was residue from the firefighting foam once stored in the drums.
We need the airport to be more open on this issue. We need the airport to tell us how long they've been emptying firefighting foam residue into the ground and under whose leadership it began. We need GEPA to tell us who will be held accountable.
We, as a community, need to be vigilant about all kinds of environmental harm. Our vigilance should include looking out for those who illegally dump, into our boonies and rivers, various pieces of junk that contain oil, electronic parts, auto parts, pesticides, paint, refrigerants and other things that will poison our drinking water source and wash into our shores.
In August 2018, the Post reported that a military contractor was fined for accidentally spilling 100 gallons of jet fuel and 10 gallons of fuel-contaminated water and waited nearly three months before reporting the incident to the Guam Environmental Protection Agency.
Areas affected by the jet fuel spill were Agana Heights and Harmon. The military has stated that the contamination area was cleaned. Some of our environmental and anti-military activists held a protest to show their outrage on this fuel spill.
Kudos to the whistleblower who recently shared with the Post the photos of chemical dumping into the storm drain at the airport.
We haven’t seen a big outcry on the images of the chemical dumping at the airport property, however. Even our lawmakers have not said much, if at all.
We wonder why.