Today’s Editorial June 15: The landfill dilemma

Want to buy an over-filled garbage dump?

What seems like a silly question has actually been made serious with the disclosure that the Dart Group is interested in obtaining the George Town Landfill and converting it to a park in the long term.

The Dart Group admits that helping the Government deal with the quagmire presented by the landfill is in its own best interests because its billion-dollar Camana Bay project is within eyesight of what is now being called Mount Trashmore, even by a Cabinet Minister.

That there needs to be a solution to the landfill dilemma is without a doubt. Not only is the landfill growing taller by the day, no one seems to want to talk about what kind of toxic mess is seeping through it into the ground – and water table – below.

In other places in the world, retired landfills are covered with dirt, vented so that the gases created by decomposing matter can escape, and then planted with grass and other flora. Eventually, these landfills become parks.

Certainly the future residents of Camana Bay would rather have a view of pretty green hill with a park on it than a ragged brown trash heap. Regardless of the motives of the Dart Group, however, we should recognise how much the offer could help the government and this country.

Minister of Infrastructure Arden McLean has talked publicly about the enormous cost of dealing with the landfill.

To have an entity step up to the wicket and offer to absorb a good deal of that cost goes beyond normal good corporate citizenry.

Finding a solution for the current landfill, however, is only one part of the equation. Finding a spot for a new landfill is just as problematic as dealing with the current landfill, and an issue that is bound to cause a lot of controversy. After all, what property owner wants a landfill adjoining or near his or her property?

But before Grand Cayman starts building another Mount Trashmore, the Government needs to have forward-looking solid waste management policy established, which thankfully is something Minister McLean says is a priority during his elected term.

In the meantime, the Dart Group has charitably offered a solution to the first part of the problem, and Mr. McLean has said there are other proposals on the table as well.

We can only hope a decision of what to do about Mount Trashmore is taken sooner rather than later, before some cartographer shows it as the highest point in the country on a map of the Cayman Islands.

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