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 cayCompass.com 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.”
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.