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Guam EPA samples soils off-base for Agent Orange

Guam EPA samples soils off-base for Agent Orange

Left to Right: John Columb, USEPA Superfund Technical Assistance and Response Team (START) Contractor from Weston Solutions Inc.;Harry Allen, USEPA START On Scene Coordinator; Amanda Wagner, USEPA START Contractor from Weston Solutions Inc.

November 15, 2018 (Tiyan, Guam) – The Guam Environmental Protection Agency (Guam EPA), along with officials from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) collected soil samples yesterday.Five-point composite samples were collected from five sample sub-sites in areas that were believed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. An area off of NCS road,along Route 3 and in the vicinity of Potts Junction and a pipe line tie-inlocated in Tiyan were among the first areas to be sampled.

USEPA’s On Scene Coordinator, Harry L. Allen, and USEPA Superfund Technical Assistance and Response Team (START) contractors from Weston Solutions Inc. performed the sampling. Present at the sampling event were Acting Speaker Therese Terlaje,Guam EPA Administrator Walter S. Leon Guerrero, Guam EPA Board Chairman Bob Perron and USEPA Region IX Guam and CNMI Program Manager Carl Goldstein.

“We are pleased with the support and commitment from our counterparts at USEPA Region IX,” said Leon Guerrero. “Expanding sampling and analysis outside of the military base is critical to the agency’s investigation.”

During a pre-investigation conference call with Agent Orange Survivors of Guam, Brian Moyer and Executive Director of Military-Veterans Advocacy Inc., Commander J. B. Wells U.S. Navy (Retired), Guam EPA was able to compile a list of potential areas to sample. The sampling team expects to complete sample collections on Thursday,November 15, 2018.

In a briefing with Leon Guerrero, Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo stated, “The voices of our veterans must be heard. For too long, Guam has suffered from lack of federal Veterans Affairs funding and Congressional support for our veterans, despite being the highest in the nation for military enlistment and service.” Calvo further stated, “For too long, the reports of Agent Orange use on Guam went unheeded, the credibility of our veterans attacked while they suffered from multiple cancers and birth defects.”

In addition to the Potts Junction vicinity, Guam EPA expects additional samples to be collected from other areas which include: a pipeline tie-in located in Piti near the Marianas Yacht Club, an area of pipeline in Mongmong-Toto-Maite and areas in Nimitz Hill.

The sampling team has expressed interest in collecting samples in DOD-controlled areas that are outside of the military fence lines. Last week, an agency request for such site access was submitted to NAVFAC Marianas. The agency has learned that this request is still under review and acknowledges that it is unlikely for access to be granted while the USEPA-led sampling team is on island.

In response to the lack of access to these sites, Calvo stated, “The military has the opportunity hereto show good faith and a “good neighbor” relationship by cooperating productively with Guam EPA, U.S. EPA, and other agencies.  Finding the facts will help us all, including U.S. strategic interests, civilians, Guam veterans, and current U.S. service members stationed here. Working together, we can finally uncover the truth and bring closure to our veterans and our people who have waited so long.  We deserve nothing less.”

For more information about this release, please contact Guam EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Nic Rupley Lee at 300-4753 or nic.rupley@epa.guam.gov

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