“The path we are on is the closest that the country has ever been to having a waste management solution that will not only help solve the problem that we now call Mount Trashmore, but will ensure that there are no more Mount Trashmores. We are identifying the best way forward as well as finding funding sources.”
– Premier Alden McLaughlin, 2016-2017 Budget Policy Statement
Rummaging through the Premier’s recent talk about the George Town Landfill in the Legislative Assembly, and stripping away all the caveats and promises, we can scavenge a single statement of substance: “[W]e will not have a system in place by the end of this term[.]”
There it is, at last, the white flag of surrender. The treacherous Mount Trashmore has claimed victory over yet another Cayman Islands government administration.
Although the landfill solution will not arise during this government’s dwindling lifespan, Premier McLaughlin said he expects to “see shovels in the ground next year.” Of that, we have no doubt: With the next election less than a year away, there is no greater certainty than the quadrennial spectacle of elected officials wielding gold-colored shovels in any number of districts, breaking ground on a variety of projects that may or may not happen.
In respect to the landfill itself, we’re sure that there are plenty of “shovels in the ground” already – along with spades, rakes, paper, plastic, chemicals and the entire cornucopia of waste generated in this country over the past 25-plus years.
The Premier said, “I admit that I smile wryly when I hear some in the press and elsewhere repeating over and over – ‘Just fix the dump’. I smile because if the fix was that easy, then past governments would have fixed it already.”
The Premier may claim that Cayman is closer than it’s ever been to a solid waste management solution, but we are highly skeptical. Meanwhile, as our government continues to contract with consultants who, in turn, submit more reports and studies, our eyes are focused on the recently released research, conducted in Italy, that correlates lung and pulmonary disorders (including death) with living close to a landfill.
As our readers, and voters, are well aware, the previous United Democratic Party government had reached an agreement where the Dart Group would take over management of the George Town Landfill, cap it, close it, turn it into a green space and, ultimately, turn it back over to the public – and also create a new lined landfill in the far east corner of the district of Bodden Town (between two quarries, nonetheless) – in exchange for … nothing, except the privilege of beautifying a piece of public property which happens to adjoin Dart’s (and Cayman’s) premier development, Camana Bay.
Not only did Premier McLaughlin and his Progressives government spurn the $60 million proposal after being elected, their Bodden Town candidates made the rejection of the Dart deal a key plank in their campaign platform. Remember, or rather, never forget: “No Dump in Bodden Town!”
The Progressives promised they had an onsite solution for the landfill. But they didn’t, they still don’t and, even if they did, they don’t have the $100 million-plus it is now likely to cost.
So, excuse us, Mr. McLaughlin, for not smiling when the subject of the landfill comes up. As for the face we are making – that’s us, grimacing and wrinkling our noses … at the sight, and the smell, of the single largest hazard threatening the public health of the Cayman population.