Contact: Michael Mann at 475-1623 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Guam Environmental Protection Agency (Guam EPA) today responded to claims contained in Bill 240 that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules would prevent a new municipal solid waste landfill facility from being built within six miles of the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport (GIA) and would jeopardize federal grants to the airport. Guam EPA has analyzed FAA Advisory Circular No. 150/5200-34 and has determined that an exemption from the so-called "six-mile rule" could be applied for if the Lonfit or Sabanan Batea sites are selected as the final landfill location.
"Unfortunately the Legislature has prematurely acted to address a perceived threat to airport funding without fully understanding the circumstances or the process involved," said Guam EPA Administrator Fred M. Castro. "Guam EPA has been engaged in discussions with the Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and DPW's EIS consultants to explore the options for exemption that FAA rules allow," he added.
The Ordot Consent Decree (U.S. District Court, Territory of Guam, Civil Case No. 02-00022) mandates a process for siting and constructing a new municipal solid waste landfill facility compliant with federal standards by 2007. The Department of Public Works' (DPW) consultants are currently preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) covering the three potential landfill sites selected earlier this year by DPW and Guam EPA: Dandan in Inarajan, Sabanan Batea in Yona, and Lonfit in Asan. The Lonfit and Sabanan Batea sites are within six miles of the GIA.
Subsection 2 of Bill 240 proposes to prohibit the siting of a new landfill in areas within six statute miles of the GIA in accordance with FAA Advisory Circular No. 150/5200-34 (AC 34). The intent of the AC 34 is to minimize the potential for bird strike hazards from landfills constructed within six miles of certain airports.
The approximate southern six-mile radius from the GIA would limit possible landfill sites to points south of the Ylig River and Route 17 (Cross-Island Road). The absolute prohibition contained in Bill 240 does not take into account any site-specific or Guam contextual considerations, including the relative lack of "bird hazards" on Guam or the ability to petition the FAA Administrator for an exemption. Although the FAA has issued a written position dated October 27, 2004, by Mr. Mack Humphery, Airport Certification Safety Inspector from the FAA Western Region Airports Division in Honolulu, Hawaii, on the subject of constructing landfills within six miles of GIA, discussions between local and federal officials regarding the FAA rule are ongoing and favorable.
AC 34 provides for a two-step process to first determine if the six-mile rule applies to a given airport facility and then the opportunity to petition the FAA Administrator for an exemption from the rule based on a number of site and locale specific conditions. Indications are that the six mile rule will not ultimately be an impediment in the process of siting and operating a compliant sanitary landfill at either the Sabanan Batea or Lonfit sites, should one of those site be selected.
In the very likely event that a final determination is made that the rule does not apply to Guam or the FAA eventually grants a rule exemption, then it would be reasonable to assume that grant funding would not be withheld.
It is Guam EPA's position that there is no practical or facilitative reason for legislative intervention on the issue of aviation safety. The FAA, through its regulatory and advisory management system, is fully capable of making a final determination on the applicability of this rule and any subsequent exemption request by the Government of Guam.
To illustrate the potential process of determining the applicability of the six mile rule in this case, Guam EPA has developed a determination matrix using the guidelines provided in AC 34. Guam EPA presents this illustration fully cognizant of the fact that the FAA is solely authorized under federal regulations to make all determinations, preliminary or otherwise. It is also important to note that a determination is an entirely different process from petitioning the FAA for an exemption, which would involve a comprehensive wildlife (bird) hazard study and presentation to demonstrate that no adverse impact on aviation safety would occur.
Guam EPA's illustrative example is presented beolow.
Sourced from ACAIS tables at http://www.faa.gov/arp/410home.htm:
CY 2003 Commercial Service Airports; and
CY 2003 Enplanements at Commercial Service Airports, by Carrier Type
For additional background information on the landfill site selection process can be found by following the links at the bottom of this page.
FAA Advisory Circular 150/5200-34 can be found online at www.faa.gov/arp/pdf/landfil2.pdf.
Information about wildlife hazards associated with GIA has been compiled by Daniel Vice, Assistant State Director for the US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services office on Guam, in a July 2004 report. The report, entitled Wildlife Hazard Assessment: Guam International Airport, is available from the USDA Wildlife Services office in Barrigada Heights (phone 635-4400).
Landfill Site Selection Fact Sheet (PDF, 140K)
Preliminary Public Scoping Report (PDF, 1.7MB), including Frequently Asked Quesions
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