It may be cutely nicknamed, but the George Town Landfill is far from beautiful to Cayman senses.
Mount Trashmore, as it’s known locally, has become a constant part of Cayman discussion for many years, not least lately, and in an online poll undertaken by the Caymanian Compass, there were numerous ways in which the controversial dump was hated by respondents.
The vote drew 449 participants, of which 164 or 36.5 percent hated the environmental damage the dump was causing the most. The second-biggest pet hate of participants was the smell, an option 162 people (36.1 percent) plumped for.
Worries that the landfill was affecting their health were shared by 51 people, or 11.4 percent, and the sight of the ever-increasing pile of trash was something 39 people (8.7 percent) despised. The option of “Other” was selected by 33 people, which made up the remaining 7.3 percent.
The environmental damage option drew a lot of opinions, many of which were shared by respondents.
“[There are] poisons leaching into to the ground,” wrote one commenter. “They can’t contain it and it’s shameful that for such a small island there hasn’t been any action put toward resolving where and, more importantly, how we dispose of our trash. It’s time for recycling.”
Another commenter picked up the same thread. “Why are the public not being taught how to separate their garbage (blue for plastics, green for cans, red for glass, yellow for paper)?” the reader asked.
“Bring back the annual $50-$100 fee. Just because we don’t have a recycling unit in place ‘yet,’ at least get everyone in the habit of using different bags …. We are becoming a spoilt nation where laws are put in place but no one wants to follow them. Everyone needs to get on board, otherwise we are going to destroy a beautiful island,” the respondent added.
Another participant felt that the solution was already staring Cayman in the face. “It is polluting the North Sound, it is polluting the air quality, and it is polluting tourism and our children’s health. We have the technology and private sector partner to do it right and save our country, just need a government to move it forward,” the commenter wrote.
The smell, which one respondent described succinctly as “very obnoxious,” also drew a series of comments.
“You can smell that thing from all the way out on the cruise ships when they are in port,” said one person.
The recent blaze at the dump also drew scrutiny.
“It smells awful when heading to and from Camana Bay for the entire stretch of highway by the landfill,” a commenter offered. “It’s not very tourist friendly and that fire was so dangerous. They need to start recycling.”
Health worries concentrated the minds of some poll participants.
“With everything getting dumped what are these combined toxins doing my environment?” one asked. “[How does this affect] the air, earth, sea, and everyone who works there or goes to drop off? The problems we are yet unaware about will take twice as long to fix as it has taken the trash to grow.”
Another respondent noted that kids go to school next door to it, referring to Cayman International School.
Someone else felt that it was time for politicians to step up to the plate. “The effects of the landfill on the North Sound and the groundwater are things every single resident should be concerned about. When will we get leaders that can bravely address this problem?”
Referring to a recent environmental impact assessment, another health-conscious respondent said, “Toxic leachate flows from under dump into ground water, mangroves, and the critical fish nurseries of the North Sound. A year since the “Do nothing” option was explained in EIA and there is no rational political discussion on the reality,” the writer pointed out. The high visibility of the landfill prompted one voter for the “Sight” option to note that if you stood “on the top floor of any five storey building or higher,” you could see it.
Many respondents selected “Other” and commented along the lines of “All the above.” Other comments noted that the continuing situation was damaging the tourism industry.
One commenter offered a solution. “In Nacogdoches, Texas, USA, they have started using a gasifier to produce energy,” they offered on an optimistic note. “Sounds like something that would be perfect for Grand Cayman.”
Next week’s poll question?
How often do you eat turtle meat?
As often as I can.
Once or twice a month.
On special occasions.
To participate, visit www.caycompass.com.