Tons of scrap cars and assorted metal have been removed from the George Town landfill, loaded onto a barge and shipped off island for recycling.
The scrap metal area of the landfill has been the site of a number of fires that have broken out at the dump over the years, including the most recent large fire last month.
Up to three barge-loads of the scrap materials are expected to be shipped off island and exported for recycling, as part of the remediation work which includes the removal of “legacy stockpiles of metal waste”.
Under a recently signed agreement for a Dart-led consortium to take over and remediate the landfill, it is expected that all the scrap vehicles and metal at the site will be processed and exported by 2023. The part of the landfill which currently contains the scrap will be used as a residual solid waste area – where items that cannot be recycled or incinerated in the waste-to-energy facility will be deposited.
Workers began loading the first barge on Monday, 19 April, and it left Cayman today, 22 April – Earth Day.
While the work on removing the first shipment of scrap vehicles was being carried out, the landfill temporarily stopped receiving derelict vehicles. It is slated to begin accepting scrap cars on Monday, 26 April, but will only take them from Monday to Friday between the hours of 7am and 5pm.
Cameron Graham, president of development delivery and infrastructure at Dart, in a statement to the Compass, said, “The landfill remediation is a complex project with many parts, and the export and recycling of the burnt metals [is] a milestone achievement within the overall project plan. There will be two to three barges of metals sent overseas for recycling in the current phase, followed by other stockpiled metals and end of life vehicles over the course of the coming months.”
“We expect this part of the remediation works to be complete in 2023.”
Remediation of the landfill is being done in stages, and the northern part of the main garbage mound has already been covered with aggregate, prior to being capped.
The eventual removal of all the scrap metal is expected to significantly reduce the risk of fires at the landfill, according to Dart and the Department of Environmental Health.
Under the new agreement, the DEH continues to do much of the work they were currently doing, including garbage and recycling collection and handling, and processing green waste and medical waste.
Richard Simms, DEH director, in a statement to the Compass, said, “Remediation of the George Town Landfill is an essential part of the solid waste management public-private partnership between the Cayman Islands Government and Dart. Removal of legacy waste stockpiles at the current landfill is an important element of the project to maximise recycling of metals and proactively reduce the risk of future fires in the area.
“Clearance of the area is also required to facilitate future and ongoing Department of Environmental Health landfilling operations and development of the ReGen facilities.”
The Cayman Islands government and Dart signed a 25-year deal on the future of the landfill in March.
Under the terms of the agreement, the 90-foot-high ‘Mount Trashmore’, as it is commonly called, will eventually be closed and remediated; it will be replaced on the land immediately beside it with a facility where rubbish from all three islands will be incinerated and converted into electricity. It is estimated that the incinerated garbage will add about 8 megawatts of electricity to the CUC grid, enough to power more than 2,000 premises.
The project, called ReGen, will also include a recycling plant where plastics, cardboard, cans and other materials will be processed before being shipped off island.
Peter Ranger, chief project manager of the government’s Major Projects Office, speaking at a press briefing where the deal was signed last month, said, “What has happened over the past 20 years is government stockpiled metals, cars, etc., ready for depollution and transportation off island. For various reasons that didn’t happen, so that’s now turned into a legacy issue for government.”
Ranger said all cars at the site will be processed, depolluted and shipped off island for recycling.
According to the Economics and Statistics Office’s annual compendium of statistics, in 2019 – the most recent data available – 2,024 derelict vehicles were scrapped at the landfill.