A request for proposals seeking bids that include recycling and waste-to-energy proposals for the George Town landfill will be released in the coming months, according to Cayman Islands government officials.
But Health Minister Osbourne Bodden said earlier proposals to build a waste facility in Midland Acres in Bodden Town have been discarded and will remain so.
“We’re not changing that, that is set,” Mr. Bodden said Friday when asked what the Progressives-led government planned to do about the landfill issue, as firefighters battled a blaze at the George Town dump.
Mr. Bodden said Friday’s massive fire at the landfill that burned for nearly a day and sent columns of smoke over West Bay Road and Seven Mile Beach might have been an even greater disaster if the landfill facility was located in his home district.
“Can you imagine having the dump in Bodden Town and have this going over the whole island? Nobody wants a dump, but it has to go somewhere,” he said.
Shortly after taking office in May 2013, the Progressive-led government made its position with regard to the landfill proposal in Midland Acres clear. “We’re going to sit and talk to all the stakeholders … but I can say it’s not going in Bodden Town,” Mr. Bodden said at the time.
The ruling People’s Progressive Movement government, along with a number of independent candidates, campaigned on the promise of killing the Midland Acres landfill project.
The Dart group of companies, which was to handle phase one of the waste management proposal, has said little regarding the former Midland Acres project since the election.
“We would welcome the chance to understand more about the new government’s wishes for waste management, and look forward to further details on their strategic plans,” said Mark VanDevelde, chief executive officer of Dart Enterprises earlier this year.
Minister Bodden, whose remit is health, youth, sports and culture, said the landfill issue would be a “major priority” during the new government’s administration.
“Under the last PPM administration, we had a number of solutions to the problem and all pointed to on-site remediation, recycling and waste-to-energy, and all that,” he said.
Under previous governments, responsibility for landfills in the Cayman Islands has come under the remit of the Ministry of Works, but Premier Alden McLaughlin has said waste management issues would be dealt with by Mr. Bodden in his capacity as health minister.
In 2007, the government commissioned solid waste consultants Gersham, Brickner and Bratton Inc. to come up with a development plan for a waste-to-energy facility at the George Town landfill site. The consultants concluded there was not enough available land at the site to accommodate a waste-to-energy plant, a new lined landfill for non-burnable waste and waste reduction and mining facilities. The consultants estimated that mining the waste would take about 20 years to complete.
The company also reported that building a waste-to-energy facility at the so-called “Mount Trashmore” in George Town would cost $100 million, along with annual funding of $18 million to $23 million, while producing $6.5 million worth of electricity per year.
An earlier report by Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc. in 2000 analyzed alternative systems of waste management based on the assumption that the dump would reach capacity in 2002 and be closed. That report eliminated shipping waste off-island as an alternative, because of objections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It also considered composting, waste to energy, landfill and combinations of these and concluded that, irrespective of what waste reduction technologies were adopted, a landfill at an engineered facility would be required in a new and relatively remote location.
Martin Edelenbos, engineering coordinator of waste management for Dart Realty, previously explained some of the challenges the company faces with the site. “The waste mound at George Town landfill is now about 80 feet high, it is mostly uncovered, there is no liner beneath the waste, no leachate collection or treatment, no storm water management and no landfill gas management,” he said.
Dart Realty last year met with Waste Management, the company that owns Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., which won an initial waste management tender bid, to discuss Dart’s proposals. The company approved of the plan to have a dump on a different site than the existing one.
Waste Management acknowledged that the limited space at the George Town site could be used as a waste-to-energy facility, but cautioned, “such facilities generate residue requiring disposal, and not all wastes can be processed through a waste-to-energy facility. Therefore, either the George Town site would need to be expanded or a new site developed to accept the waste-to-energy bypass and residue.”
The company, in a letter to Dart, said it “would not recommend mining and subsequently processing previously landfilled waste in order to gain future capacity” at the George Town site.