Gov’t: No change, no dump in BT

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.  


Previous reviews 

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.  


Smoke billows over George Town and out to sea Friday when tires at Mount Trashmore went up in flames. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT


  1. Cayman is but a speck of land and needs to take action NOW to deal with the woes of the world of garbage.

    For years I have heard nothing but hot air out of the mouths of those who can make decisions. The efforts to start anything of a recycling program are non existent.

    How sweet the stench of garbage in George Town in the early morning Christmas breezes. Visitors must be impressed by how the highest piece of land in Grand Cayman is managed. Do something.

  2. If waste was being handled at a new facility (BT or anywhere else) I’m guessing the whole idea is that it would be designed and built so this exact thing doesn’t happen.

    Instead of taking cheap political shots, the Minister should be explaining why he has allowed leaky fuel tanks to be stored next to combustible piles of rubber.

    After all, he must have visited the GT site regularly when assessing and deciding that it should stay where it is? He must have seen this hazard many times?

  3. More RFP’s great, but haven’t we been through this over and over again to no avail. I understand the gripe the BT folks have with a dump in their area but the idea that Mr Bodden doesn’t even want to hear it as an option just tells me that he puts the needs of Bodden Town over the needs of the whole Island. From what I read the option was for a state of the art Waste Management Facility including recycling facilities not just another dump. However you never know what would happen if it’s ran by the same people for the next 20 year, it may just turn into another Mt Trashmore. On any account I cannot wait to see the outcome of the RFP, there’s surely a lot of folks that may not be interested at this point because of all the BS that went on regarding this deal as well as others in Cayman. Deals made then broken, Contracts signed then cancelled promises made then back out of. How much confidence can investors actually have. I am hopeful for a good outcome but I have to admit that it does seem a little bleak in a place where political agendas are put above the needs of the many. I am sure that they are going to be looking for someone to come in and do this at little to no cost for Cayman. Good Luck With That. I also find it incredibly nave that people seem to think Cayman’s garbage is worth its weight in gold or that it will produce free electricity for everyone. Maybe in never never land or the land of Oz, but not here pal. We will be patiently awaiting the outcome of the RFP to remediate the dump as well as the one to buy all the tires.

    My prediction is that in 6 months this will be in the same place.

  4. Nobody wants a dump, but it has to go somewhere. Both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac are being assaulted by smouldering dumpfires that spew chemicals and pollute the sweet air of our islands. There are solutions to open dumps, and these solutions (common in dumpsites in the US) have not been tried by the powers-that-be in the Cayman Islands.

  5. Wow, I’m so shocked, a man with political power is not even willing to consider some form of a landfill in his town. Never mind the fact that having a landfill closest to the majority of the population / tourism makes very little sense. I’m sure Mr. Bodden has a very good reason (other than it not being conducive to what is best for him) to not have some form of landfill in his town.

    This could actually be a great commercial for tourism – you can have people relaxing enjoying a drink at a beach side bar on smb while breathing the mixture of sea air and the landfill after a good rain.

    Good to know Cayman is being run by completely impartial people.

  6. The whole ‘it isn’t going in Bodden Town’ thing is stupid. It was decided due to scaremongering and misuse of the word ‘dump’. You tell people in BT that they will have a facility like is currently in GT, and you’ll bet they won’t want it.

    A modern facility, apart from being well away from actual residents in BT, is not smelly, and has these things called ‘jobs’ attached to it.

    There are many recycling efforts that nobody is bothered about, and every time I see another styrofoam product with fast food, I weep with frustration! If we can’t even sort out a good system for aluminium and glass etc., then we might as well look at plans for living under the sea instead…if it wasn’t so polluted.

  7. Even the Bahamas is now looking at Plasma Gasification Waste to Energy for their waste management solution. Extract the metal and glass, gasify the rest and generate electricity from the clean gas and steam that are created. The residue is a inert vitreous aggregate. (no toxic ash mounds to deal with.) Having discussed this with one UK based provider I was able to recently visit, (Advanced Plasma Power) the cost is not as outrageous as past quotes for more traditional incineration. The smell is contained.
    MINE THE DUMP, professionally, slowly, cautiously, for ongoing gasification feed stock, (using a firm like Group Machiels.) If this is being done on old, poorly built landfills in the EU, it could be done here. Gas ventilation, safety and smell control would be priority. Given that it was not properly lined, sited, or managed over time, (as per Dart’s report) our dump can not be effectively remediated in my layman’s opinion. We need to learn from Miami’s mistakes. (They are constantly removing contaminated soils from recreation spaces created on top of old dump sites. This is costly, it is hazardous. We can’t sweep the toxins under a grass mat.) Developing adjacent land seems untennable until real action is taken on the existing landfill and the current waste stream is properly managed. Plasma Gasification the best method to eliminate the heavy metals and toxins we have stored for years. If we don’t do this we will have 100’s of years of further leaching into the North Sound, into the soil. The health issues for current and future generations are difficult to quantify but no one doubts the causal relationship between toxins in the water, land and air and health costs. Plasma gasification is not some futuristic potential. There have been commercially operated plants around the world for hazardous wastes for over 30 years, Japan’s Utashinai plant has used this technology for MSW (municipal solid waste) since 2000. Like any new technology the first plants were expensive. Several have been postponed due to municipalities not being able to foot the cost. However, if the funding can be raised privately, if our government recognizes the benefit of a private operator within a government regulated license scheme or a joint venture, if the CUC will buy the produced energy at a favorable rate, this is the solution that is best for our country, and, I suggest humbly, for DART. I am not alone when I say I would love to see Camana Bay continue to progress and thrive. A Plasma Gasification facility next door would be highly beneficial as it could manage both the current and future Municipal Solid Waste and the Sewerage Waste in a smell free, quiet manner. I would love to see this technology put forward in response to the R.F.P. Minister Bodden is working on. I would love to see DART folks go back to the drawing table and look at this technology potential as it exists today in combination with a metal and glass recycling program. -Just my two cents.

  8. Our problem is, no one knows or has seen what is a waste management facility. So many people are asking one to be built in Bodden Town. Why not build it in a swamp area to the west of where it is now? If it’s not going to cause any harm in Bodden Town, it shouldn’t cause any harm west of that. Maybe northwest or southwest????
    I just can’t imagine that the fire wouldn’t have started irregardless of where it’s put. I can just imagine smoke billowing from Bodden Town, or North Side, or East End. No one can guarantee that it wouldn’t or couldn’t happen.
    Plasma gasification sounds like a better alternative, why don’t we research that instead and if it can contain the smell, it could work right where it’s at.

  9. Why not put the new waste disposal facility in West Bay?
    There is already a good road system there.
    The prevailing winds would carry the smell away from the island rather than over it as with Bodden Town.
    Shorter distance to haul the trash from main population centers.

  10. Mr Billes,
    Your two cents would be well spent if that was the plan. The UK business experts in this industry would do well to mine the territories for this new opportunity for profit. The foreign office could organize a payment plan, and act as guarantor. I like keeping things in the family.

  11. Norman, David. To answer your question about why not put it in West Bay. People seem to think that Bodden Town was selected for the facility because of the location, when the reason was really because that’s where the land was that was offered at no cost. I’m sure that if the land was in West Bay the situation would have been the same. Dart offered the land and agreed to foot the bill to build the facility as well as take ownership and responsibility for remediating the GT Landfill. I think this was a good offer no matter what district it was put in. If they offered land in West Bay, no one from Bodden Town would have even blinked an eye. But I’m sure the West Bay folks would have screamed holy hell. Well, Cayman decided to reject that offer, now let’s see what comes out of the RFP for the work and how much it costs us all. You never know, maybe a magician or genie will offer to make the garbage disappear free or someone will buy it from us for millions of dollars. Check back in 12 months and 12,000 more pounds of garbage.

  12. I wonder if this firm stance against the BT offer has anything to do with Cheryl Womack, the US Business woman who was banned from going on a trip to Cayman by US courts because she was indicted in Kansas City for not paying some 7 million dollars in back taxes. She apparently claimed to be traveling to Cayman to spend a month here to meet with political and business leaders for a waste-to-energy project she was spearheading. A very curious claim from a US Business women who doesn’t seem to have businesses that deal with Waste To Energy production. The closest thing I see is her part in a huge trucking business, but that was only selling insurance to truckers. It’s also funny that she would claim this when it is supposed to by going to tender.

    The plot thickens.

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