Two photos taken of the George Town Landfill from the deck of the Valor cruise ship on 14 April by Caymanian anti-trash advocate Kerry Horek have created a groundswell of ire toward the ever-growing heap of garbage dubbed Mount Trashmore
The photos depict the mountain of garbage looming over Seven Mile Beach and George Town Harbour. And although mount may seem a bit of a misnomer, the last survey conducted on the site six months ago revealed the pile had reached between 65 and 70 feet in height, effectively making it the highest point on the low-lying island.
‘I deliberately took the photos because I wanted my people of the Cayman Islands to see what our cruise ship tourists see when they come into our ports everyday,’ Ms. Horek said.
‘As an advocate for a clean country, I am most disturbed by the way in which our garbage dump has been overlooked or passed over in relation to dealing with this growing problem.’
Back in May 2006, Works Minister Arden McLean announced his mission to deal with its continued growth. At that time, the Compass reported that the minister had said a reassessment of waste management strategies throughout the Cayman Islands was under way, and that the Ministry was looking at several different kinds of waste management systems, including waste-to-energy.
Later the same year, the Compass reported that Camana Bay developer Dart was interested in taking over the landfill, but the deal fell through, and it was also revealed any kind of waste-to-energy solution was at least four years away.
Since then, Mount Trashmore has continued its upward progression.
Kim Lund, broker/owner of Remax Cayman Islands, is another resident who has been speaking out on the issue.
‘It is unfortunate that after all the money and effort spent on promoting tourism here in the Cayman Islands, that we have an unsightly and smelly mountain of trash that is the pinnacle of what people see when they come here,’ he said.
‘This has become a serious problem and needs immediate attention.’
Judging from the speed the photos took to disseminate, the issue is a hot one, and reactions have ranged from disappointment to anger.
‘Can you imagine what the tourists see when they come cruising into the harbour of George Town every day?’ asked one resident.
‘How can we overlook such a shameful situation? Give me a recycling program fast before the trash swallows us all up!’
Sean McGinn, solid waste director of the Department of Environmental Health, has been waiting to act on the findings of the Solid Waste Strategic Management Committee, and says major plans for the dump are not in the works.
‘We have limited options for what we can do with the dump right now, although the government has been looking into furthering opportunities,’ said Mr. McGinn.
Ms Horek said the time for talk has ended and hopes the situation will make it onto the election agenda.
‘We must have a recycling programme in place this year and it must be mandatory,’ she said. ‘We must also dissolve this mountain and clean up the lands and water passages around it as well.
‘We are famous for our beaches and reefs for diving and the long-term impact this mountain of garbage will have on our environment will take longer to clean up if we don’t start now.
Ms Horek said she is not going keep quiet on the matter.
‘I have no way of backing down on this issue,’ she said. ‘I am not trying to make any Government look bad, only bring this to the forefront as April was Earth Month and this is an election year.
‘Our politicians need to be reminded of this problem every week as they have overlooked it for too long,’ she said.