In use for some 50 years now, the George Town landfill has long been a breeding ground for vermin, pests, pollution, toxins, smoke – and more recently, for consultants’ reports.
The latest such document, by U.K. firm Amec Foster Wheeler, isn’t a bad report. In fact, it’s a pretty good one. We know this because it principally repeats the observations and conclusions arrived at by other capable consultants in previous years.
Here are some key points:
- The George Town landfill is rapidly running out of space
- The unlined landfill needs to be capped and remediated
- The government should promote policies that encourage the diversion of as much garbage from the landfill as possible (i.e., “reduce, reuse, recycle”)
- Waste-to-energy options should be explored, but this technology will not eliminate completely the need to landfill materials, for example the ash left over from the incineration process.
Most people in the Cayman Islands already know this. Every single one of our policymakers and elected officials do, too … At least, they should.
Yet, here we are. More than two years after the Progressives government gained power, largely through politicians’ promises on the campaign trail that they had an on-site solution for the George Town landfill menace, and two years since the Progressives spurned the Dart Group’s $60 million proposal to fix Mount Trashmore for good and to create a new landfill on the eastern half of Grand Cayman (Voters should never forget: “No dump in Bodden Town”) – the Cayman public is being presented, not with practical solutions, but with more consultants’ reports.
The way things are going, Grand Cayman is going to need a new landfill just to contain the reams of paper being produced in regard to the existing landfill.
The manner in which Cayman leaders are purportedly pursuing a “National Solid Waste Management Policy” is the way people behave when they don’t have any money. Instead of putting up the cash to fix the George Town landfill, this government is continually rehearsing all the ways in which the landfill could be fixed, if it were financially feasible.
All the while, the George Town landfill continues to grow, abated only by sporadic dump fires and occasional off-island shipments of scrap metal.
According to the Amec Foster Wheeler report, Cayman as a country produces roughly 65,000 tons of solid waste per year, more than 95 percent of it generated in Grand Cayman, and with the vast majority of that material ending up at the George Town dump.
While the landfills on the Sister Islands are certainly inadequate, and Cayman Brac’s landfill is equally as odious, proportionate to the population, as Grand Cayman’s – any “National Solid Waste Management Policy,” as a matter of magnitude, begins and ends with what to do about the George Town landfill.
Along with the publication of the Amec Foster Wheeler report, the Ministry of Health and Culture (led by Premier Alden McLaughlin since last December when he took over some ministerial responsibilities with Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden) released a document containing answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” about the government’s solid waste endeavors.
The ministry’s first response begins, “There is an urgent need to research and develop a formal, nationally agreed policy to address the Islands’ long term goals for an Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS).”
We disagree. Cayman’s true “urgent need” is this: Fix the dump.