July 10, 2020 – Tamuning, Guam- The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) will pursue its case seeking to hold the United States accountable for its role in contaminating the environment at Ordot Dump and surrounding areas to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). This comes after a federal district court granted a stay in its case giving the OAG time to prepare and request that the SCOTUS review the matter.
“We have and will continue to take action against those who contaminate our water and our land,” said Attorney General Leevin Taitano Camacho. “We believe the Supreme Court will agree with our position that the Navy must pay its fair share of cleaning the dangerous munitions and chemicals it dumped at Ordot for decades.”
In 2017, Guam sued the U.S. Navy as a “potential responsible party,” requesting they be held liable for remedial action under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The Navy owned and operated Ordot Dump before and after WWII. The U.S. moved to dismiss the case, arguing that Guam filed its lawsuit too late.
In October 2018, a federal district court denied the U.S.’ motion. The U.S. then asked the court of appeals to review that decision before the matter went to trial. In February, 2020, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion holding that Guam could not seek contribution against the federal government for the munitions and chemicals that were stored at the Ordot Dump for decades because the Consent Decree entered in 2004 with the U.S. EPA started the clock for Guam to file suit. Under the Court of Appeals decision, Guam was required to seek contribution to clean up the contamination at the Ordot Dump no later than 2007.
The OAG and its environmental litigation team based out of Houston, Texas, have until October 10, 2020 to file a Petition for Certiorari. The Supreme Court grants certiorari and hears arguments in only about 80 cases out of the 7,000 to 8,000 petitions filed each term.