Brac landfill a 'mini Mount Trashmore'

Similar concerns about impact on tourists

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Piles of discarded tires and crushed cars, mountains of household waste buzzing with flies amid a site that periodically catches fire. Sound familiar?  

The landfill site on Cayman Brac could be a miniature version of Grand Cayman’s infamous Mount Trashmore. 

Directly opposite the Brac’s public beach, the eyesore has prompted neighbors to raise concerns about its impact on tourists’ impressions of the island. 

Brac legislator Moses Kirkconnell acknowledged it was a problem that had to be addressed. He said it would be dealt with as part of an overarching plan for waste management on all three islands. 

A steering committee has been established to address the issues as a matter of “national importance,” according to Minister Osborne Bodden, who has responsibility for waste management in the Cayman Islands. For now, the Brac landfill site remains a blot on the landscape, according to local residents. 

Wallace Platts, a volunteer who runs bird-watching tours on the island, said, “Our landfill site is, proportionately to our population, bigger than on Grand Cayman. 

“It catches fire at least as often as the more famous Mount Trashmore. It’s right opposite the public beach, and if you try to have a picnic, there are flies everywhere. 

“There is minimal recycling. Even when we have a beach cleanup, there is nothing to do with the trash except add it to the landfill site.” 

Mr. Platts believes there is no obviously better location for a landfill site on the Brac. He said the solution needs to be a combination of recycling and encouraging people to produce less waste. 

The former government had proposed moving the landfill site to the Bluff. An Environmental Impact Assessment was planned in 2012, but no details were revealed and that proposal appears to have stalled. 

The landfill site on the Brac was unsupervised when the Caymanian Compass paid a visit on Friday afternoon. Neighbors say it is often left unlocked and open to anyone to dump any kind of waste. 

Bob and Ruth Barbera, who live directly opposite the site, say the issues are identical to those on Grand Cayman – they just get less attention. 

“We are out of sight, out of mind,” said Mr. Barbera. “It is a mini version of Grand Cayman and it just keeps growing. It is an eyesore.  

“They have that four-masted schooner [the MS Star Flyer] here today with a bunch of people. What happens when they drive the tourists to the public beach right here and they are going past this mess?” 

Mr. Kirkconnell, who is also tourism minister, said the dump is one of a handful of issues that needed to be addressed to help create a better environment for tourists. 

“It falls into our overall product that needs improvement. The landfill needs improvement, the smell on the western end with Saltwater Pond needs improvement, there are certain areas of the beach where a lot of things wash ashore and we have to think of how we manage that. All of that is part of creating a better product for the tourists and the local people to enjoy.” 

He added, “Minister Bodden is looking at a business case of how we move that forward. I have every confidence that he is dealing with it as quickly as possible within the framework of fiscal responsibility.” 

A U.K. Environmental Audit Committee report on the Overseas Territories published last month raised specific concerns about waste management practices in the Cayman Islands. 

“The waste management site on Grand Cayman appeared to be inadequately lined and waste may be seeping into the water table. The facilities on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were even less convincing. 

“The facility on Cayman Brac was unlined and waste appeared to be seeping into a nearby lake,” the cross-parlimentary stated in its report. 

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Junk cars mount up at the site.

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Residents say the Brac landfill site is a mini Mount Trashmore. PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER.

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The view of the Brac landfill site from the road. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

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Tires pile up at the Brac landfill site. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

4 COMMENTS

  1. Yet another account of Cayman Brac’s landfill site – Mini-Mt Trashmore. Writing and complaining doesn’t solve the problem. Countless reports on the shame and pity of our island dump in the past 26 years have availed naught. Hot air. Smokey underground fires fester in southeast winds down toward Cayman Brac’s Platinum Coast, the West End. Since hurricanes Ivan and Paloma the waste has grown till it will be high as an elephant’s eye, way up the Bluff – as The Queen’s Property – before we know it! Roll up your collective sleeves, Government, and determine who shall have responsibility for cleaning up this unacceptable blot on our sweet horizon. This problem CAN BE RESOLVED. Hurry up, it’s time!

  2. I am a new property owner on Brac. I have not visited the landfill but certainly have driven by it many times on our first family vacation here. I am surprised to read that the facility is NOT lined to prevent seepage of dangerous fluids into the water table. A fence to block view of the site from the South road would help the visual eyesore.

    I am saddened by the huge amounts of trash washed up on the shores, especially it seems on the South. This is a threat to the tourism so essential to the island. The trash on the beach stands in stark contrast to the pristine waters I marvel at when diving here. Most of the trash is beverage bottles and cans. I doubt the stuff is coming from Cuba since it’s all US products. A hefty deposit on all containers sold in Cayman Islands would help reduce this problem. That in addition to recycling and community clean-up programs (similar to the adopt a highway ones in the States) could also help.

    I would be happy to do my part as an off island property owner. Brac is a beautiful place with great people. I hope the landfill and beach trash problems can be addressed quickly.

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