Workers at the site of the proposed Bodden Town district landfill are carrying out the initial preparations for an environmental impact assessment.
The Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free sent out a news release Friday saying that “outraged residents in Midland Acres” had “angry questions” about truck traffic and drilling at the location, which is located between Pease Bay and Breakers in Grand Cayman.
Cayman Islands Cabinet Minister Mark Scotland said the high level of activity will soon subside when the initial work is completed. He said the assessment process will occur during the next four to six months and onsite will mostly consist of observation by individuals going on and off the location, but will also include two distinct opportunities for public consultation – once in early November and once when the draft of the assessment is completed.
According to the Dart Group, the work between done consists of the following: placement of rock fill for temporary access roads; borehole and test pit development; geotechnical logging of boreholes and test pits; extraction of core rock samples; groundwater level measurements; installation of groundwater monitoring wells; and water sampling.
The purpose of the environmental impact assessment is to determine the effects that the proposed solid waste management facility may have on the surrounding environment.
Mr. Scotland said the first public consultation opportunity will give people the opportunity to learn about the technical aspects of the project and to comment on the terms of reference of the assessment. He countered criticism that the public hasn’t been involved in the process for the past year, saying that time has been spent preparing background materials for the proposal, and not much has happened yet that would warrant public meetings.
“Now that that’s done, the public has seen some work taking place. Work on the facility has not started. What I want to happen is for the public to get objective information about the proposal for the facility in Bodden Town so people can ask questions and get familiar with what we want to do,” he said.
When complete, the environmental impact assessment will be used to inform the planning process. As such, no planning applications have yet been submitted for the proposed facility.
As part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance between Dart and government, Dart has agreed to close, cap and remediate the George Town landfill – located next to Camana Bay – and to create the first phase of a new waste management facility.
Mr. Scotland reiterated that from his perspective the George Town landfill is a problem that has been plaguing the territory for 25 years. He said the past government’s proposal for a waste-to-energy plant at the George Town site is simply not fiscally feasible under current budget realities.
“The country is not in the financial position to fix the problem in George Town. That’s a fact,” he said.
He said government doesn’t have the resources to pay the roughly $100 million in capital investment to create a waste-to-energy facility, nor the roughly $20 million per year to run it.
“We have a proposal from the Dart Group of companies that speaks to addressing the problem, which includes financing for it, in an environmentally and technically sound manner. We are considering this proposal, and we want the public to learn about all the aspects of this proposal and learn what we’re trying to do,” he said.
A specially formed Environmental Advisory Board, including the Department of Environment, Department of Planning, National Roads Authority, Department of Environmental Health and Petroleum Inspectorate, met with the developer to put together the terms of reference for the environmental impact assessment. Three independent consultants came forward to conduct the assessment, and an American firm was ultimately chosen and approved by the Department of Environment, Mr. Scotland said.