Landfill report: The stark facts

Many of us who tried to obfuscate our way through college are familiar with the ploy of submitting reports that are padded, filled with filler but short on erudition, content and analysis. We often submitted our homework with the hope that the professor would weigh it, rather than read it.

The government’s “Strategic Outline Case: Integrated Solid Waste Management System,” released last Friday, is just such a work product.

Its 40 pages, prepared by a committee of 16 over a five-month period, is flatulent with fluff, beginning with such geographic irrelevancies as:

“The Cayman Islands are located in the western Caribbean Sea. The three islands are situated about 480 miles (770 km) south of Miami, 150 miles (240 km) south of Cuba, and 180 miles (290 km) northwest of Jamaica. Grand Cayman is the largest and most populated …”

The report contains endless acronyms, repetitious bureaucratese and a half-dozen appendices, which include difficult-to-decipher maps and aerial views, lazily lifted from the archives of the Lands and Survey Department.

Because there is no executive summary, a reader must search sure-footedly for the land mines contained therein. Essentially there are only five short statements which tell the whole story.

They are: 

  • “The total cost is an unknown, but the order of magnitude gleaned from previously submitted proposals suggests it will be in excess of CI$100 million.” (Page 23)
  • “As stated previously, [the Cayman government] cannot utilize conventional borrowing methods to fund the implementation. If sufficient revenue streams cannot be identified, and an effective cost recovery mechanism established, the project will not be achievable.” (Page 22)
  • “As it relates to the island of Grand Cayman, there will be no investigation of alternative landfill sites.” (Page 25)
  • “[The Ministry of Health] should allocate adequate funds in their budget allocations to cover the cost of the professional fees for this project during the 2014-2015 financial year, and also during the 2015-2016 financial year. The fees are likely to be in an order of magnitude cost of CI$2.0 million per year for each of these two years.” (Page 23)
  • Finally, perhaps the most important sentence in the report: “The new CIG, elected in May 2013, took a policy decision not to pursue the private developer’s initiative of 2011.” (Page 5)

The “private developer’s initiative” refers to Dart’s proposal to remediate the current George Town landfill and create a new facility in far east Bodden Town.

That “policy decision” (which was actually a “political decision”) cost the people of the Cayman Islands some $60 million, but enabled Premier Alden McLaughlin to keep peace with the four newly elected Bodden Town members, whom he needed to form his PPM government and become leader of these islands.

Shortly after forming his government, Premier McLaughlin rewarded Osbourne Bodden and his Bodden Town cohorts by naming him Minister of Health and putting him in charge of landfill issues — lifting that responsibility from the Ministry of Works, where it had been under previous governments.

Almost immediately, Mr. Bodden reiterated his campaign pledge: “No dump in Bodden Town.”

Before spending one more penny it doesn’t have on its waste-to-energy fantasy, the Cayman Islands government needs to do one of two things:

  1. Identify immediately a potential partner from the private sector even willing to discuss putting up in excess of $100 million for such a project — this should be done before, not after, it spends $4 million on “professional fees” over the next two years; or,
  2. Reopen negotiations with the Dart group (if that is even possible), and get this damn dump issue resolved once and for all, sooner (meaning now) rather than later (meaning after the next election).


  1. Curious, does the suggestion of New Facilities mentioned mean onsite in GT or somewhere else? Even thought they stated no investigations into new facilities will be done. And why is this? Is it because of a campaign promise or what the best option is for the whole country?

  2. I applaud the Compass editorial board for their no nonsense approach to the discussion of serious issues in the country.
    No doubt some will be unhappy with the directness of the discussion but the landfill is of vital interest to everyone in the country, we do not have the luxury of time and it must be addressed now.

  3. Exactly! High schoolers could have produced more meaningful report in less time. They (CIG) made again a laughingstock of themselves. Do they have mental capacity to understand that? Or they don’t care? There got to be someone who cares.

  4. This has been posted before but I think it is worth repeating.
    In 2007, while investigating the Matrix scrap metal fiasco, Net News received copies of a submission that had been sent to the Minister responsible outlining the creation of a permanent recycling facility. This was more than just a paper proposal because it was backed up by a DVD showing a similar facility in operation out in the Cook Islands. It was a fairly low budget operation (probably not over CI500K) that, in addition to the scrap metals, would have handled all kinds of recyclable material, creating jobs and revenue for CIG. However, whilst the people who made the decisions on things like this flew off to the USA to look at WTE plants the suggestion was completely ignored, it was not even acknowledged.
    That same year we also tackled the issue of alternative energy because CUC were claiming that OTEC (Google it) was the answer. They had dismissed solar energy because it got dark at night and wind power because sometimes there was no wind then gone for an option that I believe they knew at the time was a non-starter. Again the same Minister who ignored the recycling proposal was backing them and this time claiming that diesel-power was the only answer, which rather makes you wonder why he was looking at WTE.
    What this comes down to is simply an attitude problem, it has become political, and until you overcome that Mt Trashmore will continue to grow and it will continue to burn.
    There would be no need to throw CI4million at this or talk about re-location if the senior civil servants, one of whom was a waste re-cycling expert, had been allowed to their jobs seven years ago.

  5. Hi, I would like to offer my consultancy services to the Cayman Islands government. For a mere fee on CI500k or 2500 an hour I will spend the next 2.5 years writing reports on the next steps in the process for remediating the GT Landfill. I promise that it will effectively delay the process until the people have forgotten that there is actually a need to do something. And it will be full of big words the say nothing and hopefully confuse most readers into believing that we are actually intelligent people looking out for their best interests. I will also add in several key statements the say a lot while promising nothing and at the end of each report there will be small nearly non readable print that clearly explains nothing in legible detail.

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