For example, we heard that hazardous substances were detected near the site, but not in significant concentrations. We learned that as far back as 1992.
We were told nutrients leaching from the landfill were detected and are impacting the canal mouth entering the North Sound. Based on photographic evidence and the verdancy of the vegetation in the area, we’ve known that for several years.
We were told that there is no quick fix to the George Town landfill, something we’ve certainly known for a quarter century (and counting).
Perhaps more interestingly, we were also told by AMEC Foster Wheeler consultant Julian Bromhead that ultimately the current efforts are “about looking at closing and capping the landfill site to limit the leaching of further nutrients from the site.” Now that’s beginning to sound remarkably like the message from the previous government when describing the proposal put forward by the Dart group.
Premier Alden McLaughlin was quick to clarify, however, that only the parts of the George Town landfill that are already essentially closed would be capped, and his administration stands by its decision to base future landfill operations on the current site.
One of the problems with the current site, beyond the fact that it isn’t lined, is an eyesore, and is on the main tourist thoroughfare from the airport to Seven Mile Beach, is that it’s near capacity.
Premier McLaughlin’s response was that the amount of waste going into the landfill would have to be significantly reduced, which, of course, leads inexorably to the next question: how?
By all indications, Grand Cayman’s population is growing, not declining, and more people equate to more solid waste. Let’s contemplate a not far-fetched scenario, namely that stay-over tourism will continue to increase and that over the next decade Grand Cayman’s population will reach 100,000. Is it conceivable that the current site, already 80 feet high, will be able to accommodate the waste produced by a population of that size?
But wait, there’s more. The previous minister with responsibility for the landfill, Osbourne Bodden, informed the country that he, his committee, and his consultants were putting together an “integrated solid waste management system” that would last 50 years!
Is anyone in government (or elsewhere) willing to argue seriously (without a smile on their face, a wink in their eye, or their fingers crossed behind their back) that the current site, already overflowing and growing by the hour, will be able to accommodate the needs of Cayman’s population 50 years into the future?
Composting? Yes. Recycling? Of course. Educating our populace on how to reduce their waste output? Certainly. And the good news is that we can, and should, start doing all of those things today.
The not-so-good news is that the mass of disposable material produced by a well-to-do, growing population such as ours cannot be managed on the current site of Mount Trashmore. Not today – and certainly not 50 years from today.
Incumbent George Town elected members advocating to keep the dump in their district (the government’s position) might want to consider another position their government supports: one-man, one-vote.
If the government has its way, it is likely George Town will be subdivided into six “mini-districts,” each represented by one elected member. One of those districts we’ll call the “dump district.”
Might our premier (or any of his Progessives colleagues) opt to run in the “dump district” on the campaign platform, “Let’s Keep the Dump in George Town”?
Stay tuned. Things are about to get interesting …