Opponents to the proposed new dump in Bodden Town condemned the recently released draft terms of reference for upcoming environmental impact assessment as a “sham”.
The Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free, in a news release issued in response to the publication of the draft terms of reference, described the document as a “crippled and biased sham, forced on a muzzled Environmental Advisory Board”.
The Department of Environment and the ForCayman Investment Alliance published the draft terms of reference on their websites on 5 November, as part of a three-week public consultation, which ends on 29 November.
One of the coalition leaders, Gregg Anderson, said: “Given the extremely limited scope of the terms of reference and the people hand picked by Dart to carry it out, the EIA will more likely rubber-stamp the senseless plan to move the George Town dump to Bodden Town.”
Another Coalition leader, Charles Clifford, who was environment minister under the previous People’s Progressive Movement administration, said the Cayman Islands government had “muzzled the EAB and crippled its mandate. The EAB was blatantly ordered to draft a severely restricted TOR tailored to accommodate Dart’s desire to get the GT dump ‘out of its backyard’. It was ordered to not identify the best waste management solution for our country.”
“The proposed TOR is a sham drafted to disguise government’s intention to proceed with the BT dump regardless of its consequences for our district, the people of this island and its environment. Since its murky inception, this plan has disregarded due process and good governance. There has been no Planning Authority permission for a dump in our district, no open rezoning process to allow a dump in an environmentally sensitive area presently restricted to residential/agricultural usage, and far removed from the source of most of the island’s waste,” Mr. Clifford said.
An environmental impact assessment is due to be carried out at the proposed site near Midland Acres. According to the draft terms of reference, drawn up by the Environmental Advisory Board, the study will also explore the possibility of taking no action, meaning the continuation of operations at the existing facility in George Town.
The proposals involve Dart building the first phase of the facility, including one of the proposed seven lined landfill cells, site roads, buildings and infrastructure. The government would be responsible for subsequent phases of the project.
The objectors to the dump proposal complained that, even though the terms of reference to determine the scope of the environment impact assessment had not been finalised, work on the EIA is already under way.
“In fact, Dart started work on the EIA in Midland Acres even before the TOR was published, let alone adopted, and before any public consultation. Government and Dart have treated the BT dump as a ‘done deal’, regardless of any TOR or impact assessment findings or the people’s reaction,” said Vincent Frederick, another leader of the coalition.
According to the Dart Group, the work being done at the site consists of 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 dump proposal is part of an agreement between Dart and the government, under which Dart has agreed to close, cap and remediate the George Town landfill and create the first phase of a new waste management facility east of Midland Acres, an area located between Pease Bay and Breakers.
The study area is confined to land within 3,000 feet of the proposed 110 acre site and the area beyond the 3,000 feet boundary for “visual amenity, traffic and ecology reviews”.
Minutes of a Water Authority-Cayman board meeting, released following a Freedom of Information request earlier this year, revealed that government ministers instructed the Environmental Advisory Board not to undertake a review of an overall waste management solution for Grand Cayman, but to concentrate solely on proposals to create a new dump in Bodden Town.
Mr. Frederick said the government had ignored recommendations from members of the Environmental Advisory Board to undertake a broader review to identify an optimal waste management solution in Grand Cayman.
“Ever since government dumped the Central Tenders Committee’s recommendation of a waste-to-energy facility at the present dump site in George Town, and then embraced the Dart proposal, rated worst of all by the CTC, Government and Dart have proceeded behind our backs, through secrecy, deceit and silence,” Mr. Frederick said.