Sick and tired 
of tire talk

Dear Minister Osbourne Bodden,

Apparently not much has changed at the George Town landfill since the Christmas tire fire bathed Grand Cayman in toxic black smoke. The response of your Department of Environmental Health, as far as we can determine, is to offer the tire piles for sale — again.

Allow us to draw your attention to the following quote, which we have reproduced on the right side of this printed page:

“Tire piles like this are saved by many all over the world, and in 20 years and millions of tires, we have never encountered any tire hoarders that were paid for the tire piles — not once.”

The above comment was contributed to our website by John Deckard, an individual in the U.S. who has been in the tire disposal business for 20 years — which is about as long as the government has been flailing around for a solution to the George Town dump.

Let’s focus on two key phrases: “millions of tires” and “not once.”

Not once.

Mr. Deckard’s observations echo those made by an earlier commenter named Dennis Matecun, who is also in the tire recycling industry in the U.S. In a letter the Compass published Jan. 13, Mr. Matecun wrote, “There’s NO WAY the landfill (government) will break even or make money on the removal of these tires. Used scrap tires have a negative value, not positive.”

Messrs. Deckard and Matecun offer a simple message in simple English: Used tires are junk. If they have any value whatsoever, it certainly is less than the cost of shipping them off an island and processing them elsewhere. Translation: You have to pay to get rid of them.

One would think government could have obtained that information in a two-minute phone call or a two-sentence email, or gotten the hint the first three times it failed to sell off the tires.

So why, Minister Bodden, is your department yet again seeking, for the fourth time in three years, a buyer for the tires in our landfills?

In an ideal world, Cayman would have amassed, along with its tires, a fund for their disposal, fed by the $2-per-tire fee that Cayman consumers already pay. In Cayman’s case, however, those funds are commingled with the environmental health department’s operating budget.

In other words, the disposal fees disappear — but the tires don’t.

The time has long since passed for our leaders to indulge in flights of fancy regarding Cayman’s most critical issue. The George Town landfill is a serious problem that demands serious attention from serious people. Platitudes from politicians who get elected on a platform of “No Dump in Bodden Town,” along with pronouncements of two-year timelines, simply will not do.

If you, Minister Bodden, don’t want to address this issue urgently through the auspices of your Department of Environmental Health, may we remind you that you are also our Minister of Health, and that the tire piles — and the dump they adorn — may literally be poisoning the people of this island.

The landfill is not only our biggest environmental health issue; it’s also our biggest human health issue, and you, sir, have responsibility for both.


  1. I feel we have a wonderful opportunity to solve another part of the landfill problem . A group of private individuals have come forward to build a 10 mile road through Bodden Town. Meagre Bay area is swamp if Gov’t had the money they still wouldn’t build it. This is the East initiative that has been waiting for sooo long to finally come to the east district.
    Then we have an embarrassing fire caused by tires. Over 2 million tires that have been stockpiled for 20 plus years. We are pushing more conservation laws to protect the sea ,the land ,the animals.
    Then why not get rid of the tires now that we have some one who will pay to remove them? We are getting a road for free? No one will have to pay ? Sounds great to me. They going to take all the tires from now on. Win-win for Cayman . I vote we let them have it for free and give them a big thank you.

  2. Why hasn’t the CIG mentioned their success at finding a buyer for the pile of tires, I am sure it’s because they had no offers. Yet they still turn their nose up to the offer from the developer of Ironwood to take them. This is a clear sign of pride getting in the way of clear thinking. They would rather leave them sitting there than to give them away, same thing for the GT dump. They would rather let it sit there and keep growing than to admit that they made a mistake in snubbing the offer from Dart which satisfied one district at the sacrifice of the whole island. These are same people who accused McKeeva Bush of only thinking of his own district of West Bay, that’s clearly the pot calling the kettle black. So now, after making so many promises they couldn’t possibly keep, they find themselves backed into a corner, which is why you never hear from them. All you get are excuses and stories, like we will give ourselves two years to get started on a solution for the dump, yet during their campaign they clearly stated that they have realistic options on the table for remediating it in place. Well, we all know that two years from now will be the silly season when all the empty promises start again from politicians vying for the big seat.
    I believe they thought they would be able to convince the UK to allow them to borrow more money. Now that they realize that there’s really no money to finance the things they promised, they have no ideas what to do.
    So the dump grows on…

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