Cruise passengers get a whiff of burning dump

Seven Mile Beach vendors have found themselves explaining Grand Cayman’s newly hazy horizon to tourists this week, as smoke from the landfill filled the sky. 

Della Berry, a vendor on the beach, said a few tourists spoke to her Wednesday about the dark smoke in the sky and how bad it looked, asking if the burning could have been done at some other time when ships were not in port. Ms. Berry said she tried to explain to them that the dump fire was unintentional and not a planned burning. 

On Thursday, some cruise passengers hopping on to tour buses to destinations along Seven Mile Beach said they noticed smoke in the sky but thought it was a scheduled burning of trash.  

The Dixon family from Minnesota, on their second trip to the Cayman Islands, said they could see the plumes of smoke from the ship. They said they was not worried about the smoke, just concerned for the residents here who have to deal with it. The whole family said it would not stop them from returning. 

Canadian traveler Micheal Goulet also noticed the smoke rising over the island from the ship, but did not know what it was. No announcement was made on board his ship about the fire, he said. 

Carol Woodman, a retired environmental health worker visiting the beach, said tourists asked him if George Town was burning down and if the island always looked like that.  

“They did seem upset,” Mr. Woodman said. “I am quite sure that passengers coming off the ships in George Town were not too pleased because [the smoke] was going right across the cruise ships.” 

Sharing his expertise during his 26 years as a dump worker, Mr. Woodman said the landfill catches fire regularly because it is not properly maintained. 

“The dump should not have been there in the first place, but in those years there was nowhere else to put it because no one wanted the garbage on their land or in their back yard,” he said. “It is now causing a problem, not only with tourists, but West Bay and George Town areas. It needs to be moved, but it has to be done in the proper way or it will cause the same problem. 

“When I started working there, it was a dump and not a landfill. All landfills [are] supposed to have “breathers” from the landfill up in the air about 50 feet, which causes gases from the landfill to escape.” 

Dump-Fire-Day-2-Cayman-Islands---Cruise-passengers-story2-S

Smoke from the dump fire can be seen Thursday near Camana Bay. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT