One year later: Tire fire threat remains

Two bids to dispose of tires still being considered

One year after the dramatic landfill fire that sent large plumes of black smoke billowing across Cayman, some half-million discarded tires remain at the site. 

Numerous efforts have been made to find a taker for the tire mountain – potentially toxic fuel in such large fires. 

Government said in August that it had two “firm bids” in response to a tender, seeking companies to remove the tires.  

But at that stage they were unable to give a timeline for when the job would be done. Officials at the Ministry of Health, which has responsibility for the landfill site, said they expected to have an update on the situation last week but did not provide details by press time Sunday. 

In the year since the massive blaze at the George Town landfill site, there have been three additional fires at that location, including a large fire in February 2013, that caused the closure of nearby schools and took four days to extinguish. 

During the December 2013 fire, a pile of tires did catch alight, but firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to the much larger field of tires. 

Over the past several years, government has made five attempts to solicit bids from private firms to dispose of the tires.  

On the first four occasions, government was seeking payment for the tires and no bids were received. The Request For Proposals was amended earlier this year to indicate “nominal bids” would be accepted – meaning the tires were essentially available for free. 

Two companies responded to the request for proposals, and the Central Tenders Committee was considering the bids, according to the most recent public statement on the issue in August. Developer Ironwood, which wants to build a multimillion-dollar golf resort in Grand Cayman, has also made numerous offers to take the tires for use in its construction project. 

Smoke from burning tires has been highlighted as one of the biggest potential health concerns to Cayman Islands residents and tourists.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not consider scrap tires hazardous waste. However, burning tires can break down into hazardous gas compounds.  


An aerial photo last week of the landfill site shows the massive number of tires still at the dump. – Photo: Chris Court

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  1. This is a very scary sight to look at. I just hope that a fire does not start here because tire fire is very difficult to out. Beside the smoking fumes could suffocate people to death on the Island. This is no joke, so I would hope urgent attention is put to this even if we have to give them away. I also see some shredded pieces being used in children’s playground at Country side. This is so dangerous to health when the sun heats it up and may even cause some types of cancer.

  2. This just doesn’t make any since to me and screams incompetence. First off duty was paid on each Tire purchased which was supposed to be used for tire disposal, this was never done. Instead huge expensive efforts have been made over and an over to sell this pile of useless rubber. Highways have been built roads repaved and not a single tire has been recycled. And to top that off another offer from a private developer to deal with a Caymanian issue for free has once again been blown off.