Cautioning that the fight is not finished, the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free has nevertheless declared victory after last week’s announcement that the George Town landfill will not relocate to the district.
Capping more than two years of struggle against the Dart Realty-government ForCayman Investment Alliance proposal to site a waste-management facility in Bodden Town’s Midland Acres, leaders of the coalition said they had at last prevailed.
“After a sustained and focused campaign waged for more than two-and-a half years, we’ve defeated the previous government’s shady agreement with Dart Reality to put a dump in Bodden Town, instead of solving the George Town dump problem where it is,” said coalition chairman Alain Beiner.
“Many claimed that trying to fight government and Dart was hopeless,” he said. “But we’ve proven that the people can organise and defeat senseless and unjust decisions by government. We’ve shown that we can stand up against questionable deals negotiated behind the people’s back and against their interests.”
In 22 May elections, incumbent Bodden Town lawmakers Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour, chief backers of the United Democratic Party’s waste-management proposal, were defeated in an opposition sweep of the four-member franchise for the district.
On 4 June, Osbourne Bodden, second elected member for the district and newly appointed minister for health, youth, sports and culture, announced that while no decisions had been made about the George Town facility, Bodden Town was off the list.
“We’re going to sit and talk to all the stakeholders … but I can say it’s not going in Bodden Town,” he said.
Gregg Anderson, a coalition member, cautioned that the controversy was unlikely to be resolved by a single statement.
“We have no illusions. Dart and its supporters won’t take defeat lying down. They’ll continue trying to scare us by throwing around fictitious figures of $100 million in capital costs and $25 million in annual operating costs, while citing reports, which no one has ever seen.”
In 2007, Virginia-based solid waste consultants Gersham, Brickner and Bratton told the then-ruling People’s Progressive Movement government that building a waste-to-energy facility at the landfill would cost $100 million, requiring annual operating costs between $18 million and $23 million and producing $6.5 million of electricity.
Insufficient space compounded the problem, which would take 20 years to remediate, the group reported.
In 2011, as part of its ForCayman Investment Alliance partnership, Dart and the new UDP-led government proposed to clear the George Town landfill and build a $26.5 million, 110-acre waste-management facility in Midland Acres, east of Bodden Town, employing recycling, waste-to-energy conversion, separation of refuse, incineration and sealed disposal.
The proposition drew immediate protest, spurring creation of the coalition, with 200 active supporters and several hundred sympathisers and contributors. Rallies, press releases and common cause with dissenters objecting to investment alliance activities in West Bay, raised the profile of the group.
Although no formal agreement for the project has been signed, Dart Enterprises CEO Mark VanDevelde said in an earlier statement that the company “would welcome the chance to understand more about the new government’s wishes for waste management and looks forward to further details on their strategic plans.”
During the May campaign, the coalition canvassed district candidates about the waste-management facility, asking them to vote “against any proposal in the LA, which involves establishing a waste management facility in Bodden Town”.
“Both [Mr.] Bodden and Anthony Eden were strong and active supporters of the coalition from the beginning,” Mr. Beiner said. “Wayne Panton did speak publicly against the dump at the big PPM anti-dump meeting at the Bodden Town Civic Centre back in March 2012.”
The four Bodden Town winners – first-elected member Mr. Eden, Mr. Bodden, third-elected member Mr. Panton and fourth-elected member Alva Suckoo – agreed to the canvass, as did independent Mr. Anderson, fellow independent and coalition leader and 2009 candidate Vincent Frederick and independents Arnold Berry and Charles Clifford.
Mr. Scotland and Mr. Seymour finished seventh and eighth in a field of 13.
Midland Acres resident and coalition member Arlene Whittaker congratulated Mr. Bodden for opposing the waste-management scheme, adding that she hoped “that this government will defend the interests of the people on the dump issue and consider our fragile environment, so that ordinary people like us are not forced to spend time, energy and money fighting to defend our homes, our district, and our island.
“However,” she warned, “if promises are broken, we’ll be back in action. We expect social and environmental justice.”
Recently publishes articles relating to Bodden Town landfill
05 June 2013: Brent Fuller | No landfill for Bodden Town
Although the Dart group of companies has not commented on the project since the 22 May Cayman Islands general election, Cabinet ministers signalled in their first press briefing Tuesday that a landfill development project planned for Midland Acres would not be happening.
05 June 2013: Editorial | Campaigners’ promise is kept
It’s back to the drawing board on the emotive issue of the George Town Landfill and where a new dump will go. One thing’s for sure: The minister now in charge of the dump has vowed that the dump will not go in his home district of Bodden Town.
21 May 2013: Norma Connolly | Overcoming Mount Trashmore
The question of what should be done with the towering heap of garbage that is Mount Trashmore has plagued Cayman for decades.
21 May 2013: Norma Connolly | Waste management a smelly hot topic for candidates
While there is a proposal to close the George Town dump and create a new one in the district of Bodden Town as part of a land swap deal between the Cayman Islands Government and Dart Realty, no deal has yet been signed or finalised.
21 May 2013: James Whittaker | Protesters want dump to stay put
Campaigners against a waste management facility in the Bodden Town area maintain it is the wrong option for the Cayman Islands.
17 May 2013: Tad Stoner | Dump bid winner: We got scrapped
The company that originally won a multimillion dollar government contract for waste management at the George Town landfill is suing the Cayman Islands government, seeking to overturn a subsequent move to award the bid to another firm.