Stalling, stalling, stalling, stalling, stalling, stalling …

For more than 50 years, the site of the George Town Landfill has been a dumping ground for Grand Cayman’s waste. For more than 25 years, our governmental leaders have recognized the landfill as a problem in need of urgent action.

As the waste has accumulated, lawmakers have filled the intervening years with voluminous, verbose (and expensive) reports, costly overseas visitations and public consultation ad nauseam. Not surprisingly, all have converged upon the obvious solution: The George Town landfill must be closed, and a new landfill must be created elsewhere — ideally far from the main thoroughfare into Seven Mile Beach or the downtown commercial and capital district.

The latest report, by U.K. consultant Amec Foster Wheeler, offers more of the same. According to consultants, even if the government spends tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, of dollars on reduction, recycling and waste-to-energy measures — the George Town landfill will reach absolute maximum capacity in “a limited number of years” after the baseline scenario of 2021.

After that, guess what? A new landfill must be created elsewhere on the island.

Never during the half-century of Mount Trashmore’s existence has holding a round of “open house” consultation sessions ever been considered more than a preliminary and, yes, political, step in the search for a solution to Cayman’s solid waste problem. Yet, that is precisely what the current government is about to engage in. Again. Starting the week of Nov. 16.

We, of course, already know well the community’s opinion of the dump: It smells, it’s unsightly, and it’s most likely dangerous to our health. The public wants it fixed, and it wants this government to fix it.

In large measure, this Progressives government was elected on that singular campaign promise. It collectively declared that it had the solution to this menace in our midst — and it didn’t.

Some two-and-a-half years since their election, followed by a number of horrible landfill fires, the Progressives government has made progress, some of it cosmetic: They’ve cleaned up the site, brought in much-needed new equipment, and become far more adept in extinguishing fires when they spontaneously ignite.

We also welcome the recent hiring of Canadian engineer Mark Rowlands, an experienced waste management professional, as the new assistant director of the Department of Environmental Health, in charge of solid waste.

However, the Progressives have not advanced one practical inch toward actually getting rid of Mount Trashmore for good. They are still dilly-dallying with the millions of tires littering the landfill, apparently still viewing them as an asset, rather than a liability, on the balance sheet. Likewise, we’re now talking about “mining” the site as if our trash contains treasure that can be economically recovered and sold or converted to energy or whatever.

Frankly, we often drive by the landfill and, try as we may, it still doesn’t look like a gold mine to us. It looks like, well, a dump (and not a very good-looking dump at that).

As we move forward, it is instructive to recall the “NO DUMP IN BODDEN TOWN” campaign mantra since it remains a guiding (and inhibiting) principle in moving toward a country-wide waste-management solution.

Readers will recall that the Bodden Town candidates, and a small but vocal activist group, objected to the landfill in their district. At the time, the Progressives leadership desperately needed the support of the Bodden Town members in order to form a government, and they signed on to the very odd “ring-fencing” of Bodden Town as a dump-free district.

The consequence of this, of course, was that the Dart organization’s offer to pay for the new landfill in Bodden Town (about a $60 million commitment) was rejected by the Progressives government, and the deal died.

Viewed in that light, the rejection of the Dart offer appears to have been both politically opportunistic and remarkably cavalier.

Every report that comes out lacking an immediate action plan, every round of public consultation with no clear objective, and every “strategic” document that is produced without a corresponding and compelling plan for project financing is, in our opinion, just another means to delay, delay, delay, perhaps through the 2017 election.

In the meantime, the monster we colloquially call “Mount Trashmore” continues to grow.

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  1. It would appear that the easy solution to this issue is to wait until a new government is elected.

    Given the number one issue of the current government was to address the Mount Trashmore problem, once and for all, the current government should be voted out. It simply did not do what was promised, and in the mean time has managed to foul up every project it has undertaken during its reign. In addition this government turned down the Dart offer of a sixty million dollar gift to replace the current facility, a sum that we all will need to pay out of our pockets. Think of that, the next time you are waiting for payday so you can buy food, gas for your car, or pay a utility bill.

    Voters, what do you say?

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  2. The problem about Bodden Town and probably anywhere in Grand Cayman is that a lot of land is for sale. The reason that Dart wants to move it, is no one will buy whatever he’s selling because of the Landfill. No house lots, no Apts., no nothing, But he had to know that before he designed the Camana Bay idea. So wherever it would go that surrounding property has to become Industrial zone. It can’t go where it was proposed because Midland Acres is a subdivision . It already had houses on the land. Whoever was telling him that would be approved was talking fantasy or was trying to do something illegal?
    He would have probably had more success if he had bought all the surrounding land and houses in the area or develop a town in the Eastern Districts. We need to fix it where it is , mine it there.

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  3. DITTO, Mini Mt. Trashmore on Cayman Brac! How long until that unbelievably horrific dump- with its polluted odors and flies and now-and-then underground fires and smoke – will be cleared? Bob Soto lived near that dump on the beautiful South Side of the Brac, and always hoped to see it eliminated by the powers that be in Government. May a solution be found, and may the dump be removed (or filled?) ASAP!

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  4. No one has an immediate action plan because no government wants to be the "bad guy" for justifying the massive amount of money we’ll have to spend to fix a decades old problem.

    Why aren’t we selling our trash to Sweden? Then set up our own waste management system in parallel.

    So many consulting companies the government brings in and still no action (not cheaply mind you), but if they took 10 minutes to think for themselves they could easily reach a solution on their own.

    No let’s just keep throwing money at the problem.

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  5. No government would fix the dump because it not a job like the new high school, but would try to go ahead on the Island largest project in Cayman Islands history. This says they like the high school kind of projects. That’s why they are stalling on the dump. Did we just hire a new assistant with 25 years experience in waste management, so now the dump is fixed according to gov.

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  6. I agree Sell it to Sweden or whoever wants to buy it. No one wants it close to their house or neighborhood. Obviously no one wants in George Town, even tho we have heard it will be a Waste Management facility. That means its different , no smell ,no leaching, no unsightly hill ,etc. But if its better leave it where it is and mine it. It’s going to be labour intensive so job opportunities abound. Why anyone is pretending that it needs to go anywhere is unbelievable. Just think for a moment if it catches fire ? Leaches or they mess up building it properly ? Where is the guarantee ? We have a lot of Aquifers going East. From Savannah going East, we need it right where it is and fix it there.
    Ron, The largest project in Cayman was and is The high Schools. If we could do what UCCI is going to do ,I believe that will solve our problem ASAP.

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  7. As a staunch supporter of the PPM since its inception, and still a supporter, I regret to say my loyalty was sorely tested by the Boddentown Dump scenario.I have to say I agree with the comments above, and without this act of political expediency, we would have had a much needed new dump and Mt Trashmore would have been transformed into an asset instead of an eyesore. All the current plans for modern waste management and re-cycling could have been applied to the new dump, reducing the concerns of Boddentowners to an acceptable level.

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