Here’s our feedback: Decide what you’re going to do about our country’s solid waste problem — and then do it.
The latest treatise on trash from consultants Amec Foster Wheeler comes in at 250 pages, much of it consisting of “recycled” and “reused” materials from earlier reports.
The bottom line, buried within the details of the documentation, remains the same. According to consultants, “the existing George Town landfill site will be more or less at capacity by the summer of 2021. Construction of a residual waste cell within the site after this period is likely to be difficult. The CIG should therefore consider alternative land to accommodate new waste management facilities including an alternative landfill area …”
While consultants, at the express direction of government officials, dwell upon the existing George Town landfill site, and measures that could be taken, such as “waste reduction,” “recycling and composting” and “waste-to-energy” options, including — you’ll never guess — mining the dump, the upshot is that even if all of those actions were implemented, the net result would be to “provide some additional flexibility” and “prolong the life of the landfill for a limited number of years.”
Put another way, recycling and waste-to-energy aren’t solutions — they’re postponements.
And expensive ones, we might add. Looking at four options for waste-to-energy-type facilities at the George Town landfill site, consultants estimate that the various projects could cost anywhere from $50 million to $300 million (over 25 years), and each would involve a capital outlay of more than US$70 million. (Those figures expressly don’t include other costs that will be identified by KPMG during the forthcoming “outline business case.”)
Again, the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars we’re talking about won’t prevent the necessity, sooner than later, for government to find and build a new landfill somewhere on Grand Cayman. As envisioned, the project will, at best, merely delay the inevitable.
The new report includes an interesting piece of information that we haven’t seen highlighted before. While questions have been raised before about the possibility of digging a new landfill cell at the existing site in George Town, consultants now explain that the remaining land at the site “is all underlain by fills comprising Hurricane Ivan waste which extend below the water table. This would make the construction of any future waste containment cell difficult even if there was a sufficient footprint available.”
In other words — What else ya got?
Cayman’s government has instructed consultants to find a solution to our country’s solid waste management crisis, but only at the existing George Town landfill site. Following many months of research and inquiry, consultants have come up with a plan that will cost $50 million to $300 million, but won’t prevent the need for a new landfill somewhere else.
We have a different plan. Close the dump. Cap the dump. Build a new landfill elsewhere.