Army wants Andersen’s detonation and burning pit lawsuit thrown out | News
The military is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Prutehi Litekyan over open burning and detonation units used to dispose of ordnance at Andersen Air Force Base.
In January, the nonprofit organization sued the Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force, alleging they failed to follow the National Environmental Policy Act when applying for a permit from Guam Environmental Protection Agency.
Prutehi Litekyan wants the court to force the military to withdraw its claim and conduct an environmental analysis before re-applying.
The Army says: The National Environmental Policy Act does not apply to the permitting process because other federal regulations are in place; the court has no jurisdiction; and Prutehi Litekyan lacks standing in the case, according to a motion filed in Guam District Court.
Open pit combustion and open pit detonation units were established on the base property in 1982. Permits with Guam EPA are renewed every three years. The burning unit has not been used since 2002 but can be reactivated.
Ministry of Defense ordnance and unexploded ordnance from World War II explode along Tarague beach. The burn pit would operate nearby.
Compounds containing several known carcinogens are allowed to be disposed of at Andersen, the PDN reported last year.
According to the Army filing, legislation put in place by Congress — the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act — governs EPA permits for hazardous waste disposal.
“Plaintiff argues that in addition to applying for a permit (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), and before the Guam EPA even acts on that permit, Defendants must also conduct a separate and parallel analysis of the facility under the National Environmental Policy Act,” the states motion to dismiss said, citing a series of previous court rulings. “The plaintiff is wrong.”
Guam’s EPA has the authority to request more information for the permit, according to the documents, but going beyond that would be “unduly burdensome and burdensome.”
The motion says the military is already complying with the National Environmental Policy Act, pointing to a 2015 environmental impact statement that studied the environmental consequences of disposing of munitions on the range and considered 36 “events” per year at the detonation unit.
The court has no power to intervene in the permit application, the petition claims, because the United States is immune from lawsuits that do not challenge the “final actions of the agency.” The permit application for the open burning and detonation units was not a final action and the application is still pending.
“Instead, any potential damages alleged by the plaintiff may arise as a result of the operation, … such as contamination of the environment, the possibility of fires and damage to wildlife, … could not occur. occur, if they occur at all, only after the permit has been issued.”
The court’s intervention would also “inappropriately interfere with Guam EPA’s review of the application,” according to the motion.
Moreover, according to the army, the members of the association have not sufficiently demonstrated that they would be injured.
Prutehi Litekyan’s lawsuit highlighted several member concerns about the disposal units, including contamination of land taken from CHmorus, contamination of nearby water, and harm to endangered green sea turtles.
“Here, the harms alleged by Plaintiff cannot arise as a result of Defendant’s submission of the pending Guam EPA claim.”
The claim, the motion says, is the only federal action challenged in the lawsuit.