Environmental impact assessment presented in Bodden Town
A poor public turnout greeted Dart and Cardno Entrix company officials Wednesday night as they presented Bodden Town residents the opportunity to comment on a draft environmental statement for the proposed waste management facility in Midland Acres.
The 25-person crowd at the Bodden Town Civic Centre was quick to note the sparse attendance and that not one elected member of the Legislative Assembly or candidate for elected office attended the presentation.
“There are some questions we have for them,” said Bodden Town resident Malcolm Eden. “The people that we’ve elected are not here to ask those questions.”
The People’s Progressive Movement political party was hosting a public meeting to officially launch its campaign in George Town on Wednesday night and the United Democratic Party was holding a meeting that included its Bodden Town candidates also on Wednesday night.
It may well have been to government officials – in particular whomever the next elected government will be – that some of the questions about the waste management facility in Midland Acres should be directed.
“[Dart] never completed negotiations with the government about how much Dart is going to provide [for the landfill project] versus how much government is going to build,” said Martin Edelenbos, engineering coordinator-waste management with Dart Realty (Cayman) Limited*, one of several technical experts who attended to field questions from the public.
The difficultly most residents who did attend had with the draft environmental statement and lengthy environmental impact assessment completed by Cardno Entrix was that it had previously been limited in scope through decisions of the Cayman Islands Cabinet. Cardno’s remit was to review two options; first, to build the waste management facility on an identified property in Midland Acres and second, to do nothing and maintain the current landfill as it is in George Town.
The issue of how much cost the local government would be required to shoulder on the project was of concern to Midland Acres resident Arlene Whittaker.
“Is Dart going to build the whole facility now or just 10 per cent or 15 per cent?” Mrs. Whittaker asked. “What’s going to happen to our real estate values? Nobody’s going to buy our house in Midland Acres.”
Mrs. Whittaker and other Bodden Towners also expressed concern that additional traffic to-and-from the landfill location through Bodden Town would likely gum things up on the roads. However, Wendy Swindell, the project manager for Cardno Entrix, said traffic studies projecting congestion from 2016 out to 2036 found that the landfill really won’t have much impact.
Bodden Town does have a congestion problem, Cardno Entrix officials stated, with or without a landfill facility. They noted government has looked at proposal for a new highway extension out to East End to help reduce and divert traffic; however no funds have been identified for that road extension at the moment.
Eighteen-year Bodden Town resident Tom Zerhusen said it was “just wrong” for the government to only look at one option – the Midland Acres site.
“It seems like the whole thing is just being rammed down our throats,” Mr. Zerhusen said. “It’s just horrible to see the quality of life on this island eroding because we’re hell-bent on developing for someone else.
“I don’t think the study is fair; you’ve looked at one narrow aspect of it because that’s all you were directed to do [referring to Cardno Entrix].”
Mr. Eden also raised the issue of the new waste management facility having a useful life span of 20 years – without recycling and waste-to-energy components coming on line.
“We need to do something that’s sustainable,” he said.
Mr. Edelenbos agreed: “20 years is very short.”