Cabinet on Tuesday approved a new plan for the George Town landfill, including a waste-to-energy plant to incinerate waste.

The new waste management strategy calls for capping the landfill, creating a new recycling facility on the site and reducing the amount of waste going into the landfill by 95 percent.

Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the measure to put the plan out for bids while touring the George Town landfill Tuesday with other officials and members of the media. The proposal has been in the works for years as consultants drafted and redrafted waste management plans for the Cayman Islands.

The premier said the landfill plan is “not simply a matter of ‘fix the dump.’”

“We had to create a long-term solid waste management plan,” he said.

The approved plan looks forward 25 years to use the existing site, plus some land bought around the landfill, to build the new waste-to-energy, recycling and composting facilities.

Mark Rowlands, with the Department of Environmental Health, points out some of the changes in how waste is dumped at the landfill. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay
Mark Rowlands, with the Department of Environmental Health, points out some of the changes in how waste is dumped at the landfill. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Chief Officer for the Ministry of Health Jennifer Ahearn said the outline business case shows that the plan is possible and within government’s budget.

“We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel,” she said, noting that the technologies in the landfill plan have been used around the world as part of modern solid waste plans.

The centerpiece of the plan is a waste-to-energy plant that will burn waste sent to the landfill to create energy. The plant will reduce the volume of trash to 3 percent of its original size and the ash will go in a 4-acre landfill pit on the site, according to officials.

Jim Shubert, senior project manager for the waste management plan, said the new recycling facility will help create jobs in George Town. He said several pieces of heavy equipment for sorting and baling recyclable materials should be at the landfill in the coming months, and the Department of Environmental Health will hire a private contractor to run the system.

The new plan, Mr. Schubert said, “processes waste instead of landfilling.” He said the new recycling systems and waste-to-energy plant will create jobs because the landfill will need more people to run the equipment.

The funding for the recycling equipment is in this year’s budget and the equipment has already been ordered.

Cabinet approved the business case for the new solid waste management plan, which aims to reduce waste going into the dump through composting, recycling and an incinerator to convert waste to energy. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay
Cabinet approved the business case for the new solid waste management plan, which aims to reduce waste going into the dump through composting, recycling and an incinerator to convert waste to energy. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Mark Rowlands, assistant director for Department of Environmental Health, took the media, politicians and others on the tour through the landfill, showing off improvements in traffic flow, facilities for workers and people dropping off waste, and described the ideas to improve the dump in the new management plan.

He said any new material going into the landfill is being dumped only in one small area at a time, allowing landfill workers to compact it and cover it easily. He explained that the waste was being dumped in 10-foot layers and covered regularly.

Premier McLaughlin said government has already approved the purchase of 12 acres of land around the dump, and probably needs to find another 20 acres.

The additional land will help keep the landfill from getting to capacity before the waste-to-energy plant is in operation and will provide space for some of the new equipment. Consultants with Amec Foster Wheeler estimate it will be five to six years before the landfill reaches capacity.

If the tender process stays on schedule, a contractor could be hired by this time next year. The target to have the waste-to-energy facility and everything else online is in 2019 or 2020.

This story has been amended from the original to correct the size of the land acquisition.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Waste management in the heart of SMB and the prime residential area is the dumbest idea of all.
    DOT must add to their advertising campaign this attraction.
    Besides, what will be done to the existing Dump to mitigate its toxic, health destroying effects on lives of residents and visitors alike? I am not even bringing the proposed incinerator into this conversation.
    People come to this island to get away from the toxic cities just to find a poisons spewing monster next to their $500 night hotels. And more is to come in the form of emissions from a waste incineration. A true Paradise.

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    • This is actually monumental – the Google map has Grand Cayman’ landmark -“Mount Trashmore”. Congratulations! 1.2 miles from Camana Bay to the heart of it and 1.3 miles from the Marriott.
      Compass, can you find out if there are regulations in place for trash incineration? They are proceeding with the plan, but can an incinerator be legally built in such proximity to residential area? I mean building it somewhere on the edge of the island with prevailing winds toward the sea is one thing, but literally in your back yard is another.

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  2. The problem with incineration or WTE is always making sure that the material is completely destroyed and the facility doesn’t emit any fallout. If you keep the burn temperatures at the required levels, all the equipment is working properly and any ash is carefully disposed of there’s normally no problem but there are exceptions to that.

    Where it gets complicated is when the plant isn’t operated to the required standards or if it’s fed materials that contain contaminants (like CCA treated wood) incompatible with destruction by burning. Many modern materials will also release dioxin into the atmosphere if they’re not properly incinerated. Considering how little is known about the composition of Mt Trashmore I can see some problems here.

    The answer to your question is – it is safe but only if the proper standards are maintained. Based on the way things have been handled for the last two decades that doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence does it?

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  3. @ Roger Davies

    You are absolutely correct to challenge that but I’m not sure CIG mean 95% recycling. It reads to me more like 95% disposal and/or recycling – basically anything but putting it in landfill.

    It is doable? Where I come from in the UK they only claim to able to recycle 80% of the material that goes into the recycling centres so it seems unlikely they’re going to do better than that using the facilities available on an island this size. When you consider that most of the recyclable material will have to be sorted, stored and shipped off-island it seems a bit ambitious.

    My great fear is that CIG will try to solve this by piling anything that looks like it might burn into a huge incinerator and hoping for the best.

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