Take the last left turn before the back gate to Andersen Air Force Base. There, past a dirt road and hidden behind thick jungle, is a 2-acre property belonging to Nina and James Terlaje.
But in 2013, as they prepared to survey the property, the Terlajes discovered that massive concrete slabs had been dumped on their land.
It had been gifted to Nina and her late mother. Now, the Terlajes are trying to keep the property as pristine as possible, but finding the slabs had put “a really big knife in our backs and our hearts,” James said.
“We counted close to 300 slabs. That includes the window openings, the door openings and the roofs as well,” he said during a site visit with The Guam Daily Post.
May have been discarded by Air Force contractor
Six years after the initial discovery, vegetation has obscured most of the slabs, but a large pile, one of several, was clearly visible a short way past some trees at a far end of the property.
“It looks like they were used for a temporary building, such as maybe a temporary facility to house a school. ... It was brought up by some friends of mine that, during the building of the Andersen Elementary School, there were some temporary structures that were built. We just wondered if these were the structures from that temporary school,” James said. “This might be residual waste from the temporary structure.”
James said the slabs may have been left by a local contractor hired by the military.
The Post inquired about the case. If it was a military project, it was likely an Air Force contract, the public affairs officer at Naval Facilities Engineering Command said. She contacted her counterparts at the Air Force contracting office and a call was issued to help track down the possible contractor, but none had been identified as of press time.
'Get your waste off our property'
James Terlaje said he first contacted the Guam Environmental Protection Agency after discovering the slabs, but he said he was told they are his responsibility as it is his and his wife’s property. He was told to contact the Guam Contractors Association to possibly learn which contractor had dumped the slabs. James Terlaje said he did inquire with the GCA but there has been no follow-up from the association.
“It wasn’t there in 2006. It wasn’t there in 2010. It just appeared out of nowhere in 2013,” James Terlaje said.
“These are concrete slabs, it takes planning to bring it all down,” Nina Terlaje said. “A stack of cards, that's what it looks like in there.”
The slabs aren’t the only issue for the couple – there’s other junk, such as abandoned vehicles and white goods, littering the area. James Terlaje said for a crane to lift out the slabs, the rental costs alone would be high.
“I would just like to have the perpetrator or perpetrators that conducted this to come over here, clean it up,” he said. “We won’t file charges or anything. Just get your waste off our property and don’t feel that Guam is a dumping ground where you can throw your trash anywhere.”