The Dart DECCO consortium behind the proposed transformation of the George Town landfill brought details of its plans to the public on Tuesday night in the first of a series of town hall meetings.

About 30 people attended the meeting at the John Gray Memorial Church hall, where Dart and government representatives outlined the process involved in drawing up terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment into the new facility, which will include an incinerator as part of a waste-to-energy plant, a recycling processing area, and a new landfill for any waste that cannot be burned or recycled.

CUC deal not finalised

The plan involves the conversion of steam, created from the incineration of waste, into electricity, which would be sold to the Caribbean Utilities Company.

That power deal between Dart and CUC has not yet been finalised, Andrew Small, senior manager of strategic planning/operations at Dart’s construction arm Decco, confirmed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Small said the parties were “very close” to finalising negotiations, and that CUC had made a commitment to take the power.

Attendees listen to the presentations on the ReGen EIA terms of reference at the John Gray Memorial Church hall on 8 June. – Photo: Norma Connolly

Next meetings

The second meeting will be held tonight, 9 June, at 7pm at the Harquail Theatre, which is near where many neighbours of the landfill live. A third meeting will be held at the Breakers Civic Centre at 7pm tomorrow, 10 June.

The deadline for receipt of public input is 21 June.

Richard Simms, director of the Department of Environmental Health, told the audience at Tuesday’s meeting that the current landfill’s capacity would be reached within the next five years if nothing is done.

Consultants reports outline risks and benefits

Department of Environmental Health Director Richard Simms speaks at the meeting on Tuesday night.

Consultants from technical professional services firm GHD have drawn up two reports that outline various risks they had identified from the existing landfill and the remediation options.

With no lining, and leachate into the North Sound an ongoing threat, the consultants said a “do nothing” approach to the current landfill is “unacceptable”.

Remediation of the existing dump involves capping the landfill – work which has already begun.

The landfill has two dump mounds – the North Mound and the South Mound. Under its current remediation plan, Dart will be capping only the North Mound, as the consultants’ report states that tipping has not occurred at the South Mound since 1999 and the site “is no longer having an unacceptable impact on the surrounding environment”.

The eventual halt of new garbage being tipped at the North Mound and its capping will reduce the likelihood of groundwater from the mound eventually leaching into the North Sound, GHD said in its report.

The South Mound, the consultants said, already has been covered in a thin layer of soil and is already naturally revegetated, so no further capping work will be necessary at that site.

The $24 million cost of remediating the site is being picked up by the Cayman Islands government, which has withdrawn money from the Environmental Protection Fund to pay for it.

The GHD consultants are advising limiting public access initially to the remediated landfill, which Dart says will eventually be open green space for community use. The report states that access should be restricted until the capping has been completed, the covering vegetation has been well established, and emissions reduced to an acceptable level.

Nine facilities

Richard McAree, who is leading the Dart EIA team, addresses the audience.

Richard McAree, who is leading Dart’s EIA team, described the nine facilities that the ReGen site will hold. These are the waste-to-energy plant, known as ‘energy recovery’; bottom ash processing; construction and demolition waste processing; residual waste landfill; end-of-life vehicles and scrap metal processing – all of which will be run by Dart; and material recovery; green waste processing; household waste recycling; and medical waste processing – which will be managed by the Department of Environmental Health.

The by-product of the ‘energy recovery’ is bottom ash, from which recyclable materials like steel and aluminium will be extracted, before the remaining ash is processed, mixed with concrete and used as aggregate for fill.

A criticism that is often aimed at operators of waste-to-energy incinerators is whether the focus on selling energy takes priority over encouraging recycling and reducing consumption. Currently, about 100,000 tons of waste a year goes into the George Town landfill.

Asked at the meeting if enough waste could be generated on island to supply CUC with the agreed amount of energy per year, if a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ approach gains more traction locally, Dart engineering coordinator Martin Edelenbos said it was anticipated there would be growth on island, and that the ReGen project will “offset that growth with the three Rs”.

Questionnaire

At the meetings, attendees are being asked to fill out a consultation questionnaire which asks the following:

  1. What environmental impacts do you think the proposed ReGen project will have?
  2. Who or what do you think will be affected by the proposed ReGen project?
  3. How do you think the proposed ReGen project will affect you?
  4. The Terms of Reference contains a high-level description of the proposed ReGen project and the EIA will have more detail. What information about the project itself should be included in the EIA?
  5. What aspects concern you about the proposed ReGen project?
  6. What are the beneficial aspects of the proposed ReGen project?
  7. The topics proposed in the Terms of Reference are Marine Ecology, Terrestrial Ecology, Hydrology (including Flood Risk) and Hydrogeology, Land Quality, Landscape and Visual, Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Noise and Vibration, Traffic and Transport, and Socio-economics. Do the Terms of Reference capture all your concerns?
  8. Any other comments or views on the proposed ReGen Project?

The draft terms of reference for the environmental impact assessment can be viewed here.

Comments from the public can be submitted: 1) in writing during the public meeting, 2) electronically via email to [email protected], 3) mailed to Department of Environment, P.O. Box 10202, Grand Cayman KY1-1002, or 4) hand-delivered, in writing, to Department of Environment, Environmental Centre, 580 North Sound Road, George Town, Grand Cayman.

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