A lobby group responding to the
government’s request for proposals to manage Cayman’s solid waste says mining
Mount Trashmore is an “undesirable last resort”.
WISE, or Waste Initiatives and
Sustainable Environments, also believes the George Town landfill site, which
the government says is the preferred site for a waste management facility, is
too small to accommodate such a facility.
The request for proposals, issued
by the government in October, stated that mining was one of the options that
could be used to create space for operations or provide supplementary fuel for
waste-to-energy at the dump. A press release issued Thursday by the lobby group
– made up of individuals from several sectors of industry and society – stated
that WISE “still holds the view that landfill mining is an undesirable
last-resort method of remediation because of the public health and environmental
risks as well as the financial cost and lengthy process of landfill mining”.
It said there was an “absence of
practical and reliable information such as data on waste streams and contents
of the landfill that significantly compromises the adequacy of the RFP document
in many aspects but particularly in respect to addressing the issues involved
with the existing dump”.
The group believes site
characterisation study needs to be done at the site before any solutions can be
finalised. “Such a study has yet to be carried-out for the George Town landfill
and such a study is the only way to fully determine the specific remediation
measures required in addressing environmental and public health concerns,” the
statement from WISE said.
The advocacy group also pointed out
the current dump size, mentioned in the RFP as the preferred site, is too small
an area on which to operate a comprehensive solid waste disposal management
facility and that a new site or a combination of sites were needed where waste
management processes could sort, recover and recycle materials from future
“If such alternative site or sites
are structured properly, perhaps with the collaboration of other government
agencies charged with supporting business and economic development initiatives,
many new recession-free jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for Caymanians
could be created,” the statement from WISE said.
The request for proposals does not
restrict proposers to the current site.
The group had some praise for the
government’s approach, however. Theresa Broderick, a member of the group’s
coordinating committee, said: “WISE Cayman is particularly pleased that in issuing
its RFP, the government included WISE’s suggested approach, that of broadening
the request to receive proposals on “Comprehensive Solid Waste Disposal
Management” and not restricting Cayman to a waste-to-energy facility alone nor
to the current landfill site.
She said that it “a huge win for
Cayman’s best interests” that the government is considering up-grading to a
comprehensive approach in handling solid waste on Grand Cayman.
The group pointed out that while
reducing the height of the dump to alleviate its visual eye-sore may be the
greatest priority for some, stopping the leaching of pollutants from the dump
into the North South and avoiding air, odour and noise pollutants should be the
highest priority for government decision-makers. “As far as the aesthetics of
the dump are concerned, aggressively remediating and capping the landfill – in
other words, remedying the environmental hazards, then covering with
impermeable layers and green landscaping – remains the most expedient way and
cost-effective way of reversing the ills of the dump,” the group stated in its
WISE also called for specific
recycling targets, including, at a minimum, the adoption of the goals of the
2008 Draft Development Plan to ensure at least 12 per cent of solid waste is
recycled, with that target increasing to 32 per cent over the following 20
While the RFP calls for the use of
“proven technology, sound design and high quality construction”, the minimum
evaluation criteria section requires that the selected waste-to-energy
technology be in use for a minimum of one year or that it will be operating
within six months of contract award, the group pointed out.
The RFP also refers to
“gasification technology”, a relatively new form of waste-to-energy with few
successful commercial examples worldwide, the group said.
The RFP requires the successful
bidder to finance its proposed undertaking to build, own and operate a
comprehensive solid waste disposal management and waste-to-energy facility.
“While the RFP states that [waste-to-energy] must form the “core technology,”
it also calls for economical balance; yet, [waste-to-energy] is not necessarily
the most economically appropriate approach,” the group’s statement said. “WISE
Cayman remains sceptical as to whether the economics of [waste-to-energy] are
sustainable in the long term.
“Therefore, the financial modelling
by any proposer will require careful analysis while the terms and conditions
and most likely, the fees that may be required to be guaranteed by government
and ultimately borne by the public, will require equal scrutiny.”
WISE said it supported the
government’s initiative in principle and acknowledged the complexity of the
WISE Cayman is a non-profit
advocacy group of almost 200 community advocates. The organisation held several
public meetings earlier this year to raise awareness about alternatives the