Don’t Dump on Bodden Town

| 19/03/2012

I found the March 16th viewpoint of Mr Frank McField (in the Caymanian Compass) as insulting as it was misinformed and naive. “Bodden Town voters” did not need Mr Alden McLaughlin to be “inflamed” by government’s proposed relocation of Grand Cayman’s dump to our district. We were in fact inflamed following a meeting with Dart representatives whom we invited to speak to us, well before Mr McLaughlin expressed any opinion. 

About two dozen ordinary Bodden Town residents, with no political affiliation, assembled on October 24th to listen to Mr Ken Hydes, Mr Martin Edelenbos  and Ms Joanne Gammage. Our initial concern was the acute problem of heavy truck traffic through our town and the certain aggravation of that problem by putting the island’s dump in Midland Acres.

After listening to the Dart presentation and their answers to our queries, we decided to vigourously oppose the project and to form the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free.

“Is there a chance that the trash presently at the GT landfill will be moved to the new dump?” – “Not to our knowledge.”

“Will Dart be involved in managing the new landfill?” – “Not at all.” 

”Will the East-West Arterial be extended to at least Midland Acres?” – “This a Government matter, not Dart’s.” 

”What difference will there be between the present dump in GT and the one being proposed for BT?” – “The pits in Midland Acres will have a liner at the bottom.” 

”Is Dart behind this project strictly for the good of Cayman?” – “Well, we have to admit that it would be a good thing for Dart.” 

As per our first press release: “We consider the planned move a threat to the integrity of historic Bodden Town, and are certain that the vast majority of Bodden Towners share this view.  As well, we seriously question the motives behind the proposal to move the present dump, and the need to move it anywhere.”

Mr McField’s attempt to trivialize our concern and our campaign into some sort of PPM “vote-getting scheme” is outrageous.  As per our response to the UDP’s claim at their March 8th Bodden Town Post Office rally that the Coalition is “controlled by the PPM”, we responded that this was nothing but a smokescreen to avoid responding to Coalition objections. “Premier Bush, Minister Scotland and BT MLA Seymour are well aware that we’re completely independent of and do not support the PPM. While individual members of the PPM may well support the Coalition’s campaign – as do several UDP members – the Coalition has nothing to do with any political party. There isn’t a single MLA or PPM official on our Coordinating Committee and the Coalition has not received a penny from the PPM.”  

We established the Coalition last October as “a non-profit, non-political, single-issue organization open to anyone opposed to moving the dump to Bodden Town, regardless of their view on other issues, and regardless of political affiliation”. The Coalition supports no political party, and has equally condemned past and present governments for neglecting their responsibility in regards to proper management of the George Town landfill and the elimination of Mount Trashmore.

As to Mr McField’s praise for Dart, we are not taking away any credit which Dart may deserve. But, let’s not be naïve. Many of our supporters did until recently admire the island’s biggest real estate developer. They knew, of course, that Dart is a private company, driven by profit, and that anything they did was in their interest, whether immediately or ultimately, directly or indirectly. Yes, what they did was not from “the goodness of their hearts”, but it was felt that they respected our country and its heritage and environment. 

They were not considered ruthless and rapacious profiteers who would run roughshod over due process and transparency and grab anything they could get away with. In fact, Dart had built up considerable goodwill. But the acquisition of a substantial length of West Bay Road, part of Cayman’s birthright and heritage, and a public asset of all Caymanians, and the proposed relocation of the George Town dump have changed how many perceive Dart. Many now wonder if Dart’s “generosity” was not in fact a “run-up scenario” designed to “soften us up”. Many did not expect Dart to take whatever government would give away in exchange for a promise of “thirty pieces of gold” – especially inasmuch as government was never mandated by the people to do so.

But back to the issue of the George Town landfill and its relocation. After all, we can’t fault Dart if government inexplicably reneged on its deal with Wheelabrator to build a waste-to-energy facility on the present site, the proposal recommended by the Central Tenders Committee (CTC), and the solution supported by virtually all experts. We can however reasonably question the proposal submitted by Dart’s construction company Decco and its concern for our environment. Relocating the dump to Midland Acres would involve rezoning the area. We can fault Dart and question their priorities for proposing to transform a pristine residential/agricultural area to heavy industrial use. In any case, the CTC rejected it, rating it worst of all proposals considered for solving the GT dump problem after its technical team expressed “great concern” about the impact of a dump in an “environmentally sensitive” area. And, we can’t fault a “good corporate citizen” like Dart if government then ignored the CTC and due process and ran with the Dart proposal of putting the dump in Bodden Town. 

We can question how Dart intends to approach the rezoning of the proposed dump site. In response to an FOI request, the Central Planning Authority claims that the only record it has of anything related to the relocation of the dump to Bodden Town is a March 2011 Planning Department meeting which discussed and approved the subdivision of Dart’s Midland acres property. Is this in fact a tactic to rezone behind our backs, to bypass due process and any consultation with the surrounding population?

Mr McField is grossly misinformed and uncritically swayed by the “spin” of a well-oiled and well-funded PR machine in declaring that the plan for Midland Acres is ”a more ecologically conscious waste management facility” and an “environmentally manageable waste disposal site”.  This flies in the face of what we heard from Dart’s own representatives and from Mr Sam Small, a civil engineer with experience at the GT landfill: “The Dart-Government dance regarding the proposed in Landfill in Bodden Town is a brilliant piece of marketing by the 'ForCayman Alliance' (FCA) with beautifully produced flyer which seems to answer the questions but is not setting the dump facts straight.  What FCA is offering for Bodden town is exactly the same as we have at the GT landfill, apart from a liner under the proposed landfill.  But, how is Government going to deal with the runoff from BT landfill?”  

Other experts dismiss the significance of even the liner, suggesting that the acid from a single miss-sorted and overturned car battery is all it takes to pierce the liner, and begin the process of contaminating the central wetlands.  At a September 21st 2011 meeting between Water Authority (WA) experts and Dart representatives, according to documents remitted by WA in response to an FOI request, the Dart people stated: “The new waste management facility will provide for the same processes carried out at the current GT dump …”  How in the world can Mr McField honestly declare that “…the quality of our waste management system could be greatly enhanced by closing the George Town dump and opening another in Midland Acres”?

In Mr Small’s opinion, building another landfill site in Cayman “…is a crazy idea, especially as it is miles from the source of the waste. Dart has openly stated that they are not going to operate the site and so the same operators who currently run the GT landfill will operate the BT landfill with the same guidelines of covering the fill on a daily basis as they are meant to do today.  If you look at the website for the new landfill you see different buildings shown, and now go and visit the GT landfill and you see exactly the same buildings including the recycling centre.  Why are we expected to believe that the same operators are going to suddenly do things differently from what they currently do.  Why there are no formal mass recycling programs today is because DEH is underfunded.  And how much extra funding will the new facility get from Government to guarantee it will not turn into another GT landfill within the next decade."  

Numerous requests from the Coalition to see the projected operating budget of the proposed facility, and the source of funding, remain unanswered.  Is Mr McField perhaps privy to such information, or does he simply have blind faith in the same people who have mismanaged the GT landfill since 1983? Has Mr McField seen anything more than the meaningless artist’s conceptual drawing of the proposed site that the FCA has been peddling? Our numerous requests for technical drawings and specifications have also gone unanswered.

Mr McField doesn’t feel that Bodden Town residents ”…should be able to say ‘not in my backyard’…”, but we imagine that Dart does have this right.  After all, the facts clearly show that Dart’s desire to get the GT dump out of its sight is the only reason for relocating it and contaminating a second site.  The current Street Atlas of the Cayman Islands (Page 24) pinpoints the “Camana Bay Future Residential Area” adjacent to the “Waste Management Facility” (sic).  And, Dart CEO Mr. Jim Lammers could not have been more clear: the GT dump is the “single most commonly stated hurdle for potential purchasers of various residential units at Camana Bay”. 

But Dart knew of the dump when it purchased the Camana Bay land. The fact that Bodden Town residents and property owners didn’t does give them the right to refuse the proposed dump.  However, Mr McField, apparently speaking, not for Dart, but for “all George Town voters”, seems to feel that this is just, that the real injustice is George Town continuing “…to play host to the garbage of the entire island after having served so long as its economic lifeline as well as its garbage dump…” 

Honestly, Mr McField, is it not normal that the economic centre of this island and the source of most of its waste also be the site of its waste facility?  Are you suggesting that the Bodden Town district will receive the benefits of George Town – its jobs and economic activity — along with its dump? Quite the contrary! As the Coalition has repeatedly pointed out, a dump in our district will be the prime obstacle to new jobs and economic growth. No one will consider establishing a new business or tourism facility or residential project around a dump. Several tenants in the area have already indicated that they won’t be renewing their leases.

The overwhelming bulk of the island’s waste is generated in George Town, West Bay, and along Seven Mile Beach. Of the estimated 2010 Grand Cayman population of 52,601, no less than 46,869 people resided in West Bay and George Town. This puts 89% of the population — and we can assume of its waste — far from the proposed dump site. Department of Tourism figures for 2011 show a total of 309,091 stay-over tourists, overwhelmingly along the Seven Mile Beach corridor. This adds, on average, another 5,944 every week to the GT-WB area, not to mention that most people living in the Eastern Districts work in the GT “economic lifeline”, producing more waste in the area.  We can safely assume that government intends to truck at least 92% of the island’s waste all the way to Bodden Town, and on to the proposed dump, wasting fuel, increasing noise, pollution, risk of accidents and wear-and-tear of our roads all along the route. Surely this can only make sense for Dart.

At that same Water Authority meeting of September 21st last, WA experts stressed the need for “a systematic and complete review” of the project, and for “an Environmental Impact Assessment”.  Such an assessment, anywhere in the world, would be the very first step in the process of selecting an alternate dump site, in advance of a site being selected. Such a study has still not been done. We still don’t even know which government entity decided that the GT dump had to moved, and that the Bodden Town site was the best. The only response we’ve received so far is a vague December 20th reference by Minister Scotland to “a private 1990s study”, in which, he admitted, Bodden Town was not the first choice, but demands that he disclose the document remain unanswered.

This disregard for due process, transparency, and for our environment is only part of what has inflamed, not only Bodden Towners, but many others around the island.  Bodden Town’s already acute traffic problem will be aggravated rather than solved.  Economic growth in our district will be stymied instead of stimulated. The common-sense rule of keeping a landfill close to the source of the waste is completely ignored. A dump should be located where residents and property owners have prior knowledge of the proximity of a waste disposal facility. A dump should be located in an industrial area, close to a major roadway, close to the public sewage system and to the source of energy, both for supply and possible resale.  It should never be located in a wide open area vulnerable to natural disasters (like hurricanes).  It should never be near animal or nature preserves, like Meagre Bay Pond, one of the island’s key bird sanctuaries. Areas of historic value should be avoided, and Bodden Town is the original capital, with several historic attractions and homes. 

But, above all, the cardinal rule is to never relocate a dump unless absolutely essential: Never contaminate a second site. Any new and improved waste managementtechnology touted for a new site should be implemented (and tested, risk-free) at the existing site.

That successive governments since 1983 have shirked their responsibility of properly managing the George Town landfill, and eliminating Mount Trashmore, is a national disgrace. This responsibility has been an integral part of the mandate of the well-paid politicians who voluntarily opted for public life as representatives of the people, and who have governed our country. Fixing the problem of the existing landfill – where it is — continues to be government’s responsibility. To allow them to make a deal with Dart to run from the problem by simply “exporting” it elsewhere as a “quick and cheap fix”, and “sweeping it under the carpet”, would compound this national disgrace, and be a poor lesson indeed to our children, to future generations…and to future governments. 

Establishing a new landfill in Bodden Town, to be managed by these same governments which have shirked their responsibility up until now has the potential of becoming the worst ecological disaster in Cayman’s history.

Alain Beiner, Bodden Town

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (37)

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  1. The lone haranguer says:

    Where the hell are we going to dump then? Where?

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a very well written article. The thing that always bothers Bodden Town residents is the constant references when writing about Bodden Town to "historic Bodden Town". Particularly guilty are Bodden Towners who have left BT and are living in classier places 'in town". Do we mean the wrecked Ivanised houses on the seaside as everyone, including tourists, drive into BoddenTown? Is this a Hyatt hotel thing where Government can't knock the bloody eyesores down because of insurance issues? I doubt it. I suspect local politics. It's 8 years since Ivan; why are they still there attracting the rodents? Or is it the phony "guardhouse" on Guard House Hill? But at least an effort was made to make that area look nice. Or the pathetic "caves/buy your gold for cash" tourist tat of the main road , or the Slave Wall, a genuine historical entity which Government has never taken on board (stones were used many years ago to build the runway at Owen Roberts) and is now invisible to anyone because it is not signposted and if you ever get to it you can't see it because the landowner has erected horses' stables (yes, in a residential neighbourhood but don't ask because of course Planning doesn't come into these things if it's a Caymanian doing it). Ah so it go.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The piece written by Mr. Alan Beiner is excellent !  It appears to be carefully researched,

    and a factual study of this problem.

    I sincerely hope that some courageous individual in Government will oppose this

    plan to ' Dump on Bodden Town'.  The Ministers representing Bodden Town have not

    consulted the people but simply fallen behind "The Leader"..spineless,

  4. Emily from Maryland says:

    Ninja warriors could not have gone to battle better than you did in your March 19, 2012 Viewpoint!  Congratulations on your most cogent, terse, exemplary and fact laden argument against DART.

    Your dramatic use of the words "ruthless", "rapacious profiteers", "running roughshod", were not lost on those who believe you are entirely correct.

    To our knowledge, DART profiteers have attempted this same sort of island take-over elswhere and once their scheme was exposed, they were evicted.

    Your insightful 20/20 prose brings a sharp focus on how inept the Cayman politicians have been in representing the best interest of their constituents and your fragile island home.

    If you haven't guessed , we were tremendously moved by yourletter and its passion and logic.  We are Americans who love Cayman as our second home, and who return year after year for a one-month visit.  We’re particularly fond of the unspoiled eastern half of the island, and deplore this senseless attempt to destroy it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope your self satisfied viewpoint is reminded every time you place your trash out that it will go to an over burdened land fill with no recycling.

  5. anonymous says:

    In the future, everyone will be fighting over garbage because of its economic value. Every district will lay claim to it.

  6. Just Sayin' says:

    You had a few people on your side for a while there. Your inability to produce any credible rationale behind your opposition has resulted in the dwindling support for your cause however.

    • jus sayin' 2 says:

      If the dump relocation is successful, how will this effect the 100% foreign investment being targetted for Cayman's newest venture…Enterprise City?

      • Clutchin' at Straws says:

        When the dump relocation is complete it will be of benefit to all residents of and visitors to the Cayman Islands, foreign investors included. Why not ask CEC yourself? My guess is that they were fully aware this was going to happen before they chose their site.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Where are the forward thinkers in the district of Boddentown? Obviously there are those vocal few who are looking to torpedo this waste management facility but it has been common knowledge that the GT landfill's days were numbered.

    Boddentown represents a central location for the future of waste management, simply look at a map. Instead of trying to push rope why not fight for recycling? Then the problems and mistakes made at the GT landfill will not be repeated.

    The Waste Management problem will not go away if the objectors kill this plan those left to deal with this problem in the future will not look upon their shortsightedness kindly.

  8. so Anonymous says:

    In the end it all comes down to "are you all really smart enough to not drown yourselves in your own garbage?"  So far the answer is still no.  Dart tried to help and look what happened.  Government is doing the usual pretent to do something with the expected results.  Unless a miracle happens in ten years the mountain will just be ten times bigger and no one will care to visit the trash mountain in the sea.

  9. nauticalone says:

    Very well researched and articulated.

    And after listening to the arguments "for" a new "facility" in BT i also agree the Dump should be "remediated" at the current site.

     

     

  10. I Love Big Dumps says:

    Frank McField is irrelevant. The dump in Midland Acres will be one of the few positive things this Administration achieves.

  11. How Quickly we forget says:

    Search for the below on CNS 

    Until Dr Frank explains this story he is not qualified to comment on any other.

    "New Papers reveal AG's Affordable Housing Concerns"

     

  12. anonymous says:

    When Dart bought his land 20 odd years ago we had not yet thrown in 60 feet of Hurricane Ivan garbage in it. thats why he is willing to help us move it.

    I support him solving this problem that is destrying our beautiful North Sound and will soon give us birth defects here in Town as well. It will be lined up in Bodden Town- lets get it done.

    • Savannah Resident says:

      Please stop stating issuing pertaining to birth defects when absolutely no quantitative or qualitative research has been done to determine such outcomes exist or resulted from the GT Landfill.  I will never understand why people blatantly lie about issues that don't exist. 

      Regarding the removal of the GT landfill, the residences of Bodden Town have every right to exercise their democratic right.  Why should they facilitate the needs of a developer, when the end benefit is only to line his pockets?  Will the waste management create new jobs? Who will cover the infrastructure cost for trucking garbage?  Who will pay for the access roads to the newly proposed location?   The answer to these questions is straight forward, the people of the Cayman Islands.  We don’t pay garbage fees directly hence the increase in other fees to compensate and off set cost. 

      The process of creating a new landfill further magnifies the lack of accountability that developers in the Cayman Islands continue to enjoy.  Let us create a grand scheme, secure funding, move the  dump to a new location yet cover no maintenance or upkeep cost and allow government to absorb all road infrastructural cost.  I ‘m sorry but as a Caymanian, I find this deal appalling at best.  Go back to the drawing board and come up either a ratified concept with the developer bearing more cost or drop the idea all together.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you really live in Savannah you should be happy to have the landfill moved further away from you to Breakers than where it is now.

        Regarding who pays for garbage removal in Cayman..the residences do not. Prior to moving the fees from direct to indirect, residents paid $100 per year. The cost for 3 times pick up at that time was over $536. The developers/Retailers/Hotels picked up the rest of the tab!  We as residents have never paid our fair share so now you want even more?…come on guys. Its your garbage.

        BTW, What you are missing in your "appalling calculation" is the environmental damage happening in the North Sound and the George Town ground. Just ask Gina Petrie and DOE- they will tell you. How much will that cost us eventually??? that's the true "appalling calculation".

        • Anonymous says:

          Moving the dump to Midland Acres means that, due to the prevailing winds, everyone west of Midland Acres will be affected by the smell of the dump. In its present location it has no effect on the residents of Savannah.

          • Stupid is as Stupid Does says:

            I agree. Better to leave it blowing over the Seven Mile Beach corridor.

            • Anonymous says:

              You do understand that the SMB corridor is also west of Midland Acres, right?

  13. Anonymous says:

    XXXXX not a lot of reasons why the new facility should not be as suggested, west of Breakers. 

    I have a very simple solution, each district should take care of its own garbage. Cayman Brac and little Cayman has to do it, so why not us?

    That way if you do not produce a lot of garbage you have a smaller problem to deal with. Afterall why should all the garbage from East End and NorthSide and Bodden Town have to travel through Savannah to get to the dump. Not fair on Savannah.

    Think about it. This solution gets rid of this NIMBY issue once and for all.

  14. Dred says:

    And you forgot to RESTATE and ONLY to serve Dart's desires and not of the people of the Cayman Islands IS A NATIONAL DISGRACE.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Beiner,Frank McField must be paid to keep himself relevan and please hsi handlers. Please ignore him as 95% of the people do.

  16. Anonymous says:

    You are so right.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Another point of contention is that we never seem to get a specific definition of exactly what "remediation" works & processes the FCA folks intend to apply to the existing dump if a new facility is opened. While we wait numerous years for the existing waste to decompose, what will be the recurrent annual costs for these efforts? Who would be responsible for these ongoing processes? Who would pay for these ongoing processes?

    If the answer is the country (the residents) then would it not seem more logical to take the same time frame and actually eradicate most of the waste through WTE & recycling? In my opinion recycling will only work if the mechanisms are in place to sort the bulk waste at the processing facility as the costs associated with separate collection systems will simply be too much.

    • Anonymous says:

      Remediation of a dump means installing methane recovery system, testing wells on perimeter, covering dump in plastic and adding 5-6 feet of soil over everything. Gas is pulled of and stored or burnt. In our case it is likely to be used as a fuel source. In some cases the leachate is pulled from the wells and treated in a sewage facility until it becomes very small. The mound is then landscaped and used usually as an outdoor recreational area.

      The information that I read from FCIA was that Dart would pay for that for 10 or 20 years.

  18. Dwindling Hope says:

    Mr. Beiner,

    This viewpoint was well written, researched and articulated. I am a George Towner and am in absolute agreement with the points expressed. While I do believe that your clarifications  were both warranted and overdue, I have to say that I (and indeed many Caymanians and George Towners in particular) give no credence to any comments made by Mr. Mcfield. We learned quickly that his endorsement of this and any other project is wrought with conflict. He has lost the confidence and respect of the community that once showed him their solidarity for the same reason that he now praises any proposal made by the UDP – because it pays well.

    I encourage your coalition to continue your work; not for politics, not for notoriety,  not for profit, but simply because it is the right thing to do for the community and people that you hold dear. It is a lesson that I hope Mr Mcfield and the others like him who will sell their soul for a dollar – will one day learn.  

    Continue to fight the good fight Bodden Towners/Cayman because as Edmund Burke once said "Evil only prospers when good men do nothing".    

     

    • anonymous says:

      " not for politics???…Ha. I am surprised however that as a George Towner you would prefer to ruin our ground water and the north sound over a sensible solution…a solution that is being provided without us spending any money most importantly.

      Yes it benefits Dart. Of course it does. but is also is an opportunity to fix something that went wrong a long time ago when we cannot afford to fix it and will not be able to fix it for years if ever. 

      Report after report have said this is a giant problem needing solving. Report after report we delay it. We just keep kicking the can down the road. So in this special case- our children will have to deal with it I guess. And you know what it will eventually go to Bodden Town or East End anyhow. Just look at the map and select the biggest, sparsest populated areas. But that is okay because no one wants to make tough decisions. We all like the status quo. 

      Thomas Paine once said:  “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

      • Anonymous says:

        So now you want to ruin the ground water of Bodden Town as well? How does that make any sense?

  19. Loopy Lou says:

    Having read this, I wonder if the dump should be moved into Bodden Town, rather than the proposed location which is nowhere near "historic" Bodden Town.  If this is the kind of crap they generate there, then it makes sense to put the dump right where the crap is produced.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Mr. McField has demonstrated that he his unfit to be quoted on anything pertaining to public importance. His days of hoodwinking the Caymanian people behind his "Doctorate" credentials are effectively over. He is a spent force and will no doubt fall afoul of the hooligans that he congregates with.

  21. Big Mike says:

    Mr. Beiner,

    I will first start out by saying that i am a born Caymanian (25 years old) I love this island and the caymanian people.

    Everything you stated in your view point is TRUE!

    People think of it this way: If Camana Bay was in BT you think he would care where the dump is now?

    Dart has done the country good with Camana Bay, but no more.. Caymannians need to eat too!!!!

     

    • anonymous says:

      …..and thank god for Dart because a lot of us have eaten from 2005 and are still eating. Ask the KBTDF folks which one of them has provided a single job to Caymanains in these last 5 years. I know the answer already.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        A fable for Anon at 16:41

        A WOLF who had a bone stuck in his throat hired a Crane, for a
        large sum, to put her head into his mouth and draw out the bone.
        When the Crane had extracted the bone and demanded the promised
        payment, the Wolf, grinning and grinding his teeth, exclaimed:
        "Why, you have surely already had a sufficient recompense, in
        having been permitted to draw out your head in safety from the
        mouth and jaws of a wolf."

        and a translation for those who need it:

        In serving the wicked, expect no reward, and be thankful if you
        escape injury for your pains.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Until the people of this country learn to think of themselves beyond the limitations of their respective districts, this country will remain fighting against itself.  The personalizing of the relocation into the "historic Boddentown" district is misleading and disingenuous at best. This situation is based upon several factors the author chose to ignore. It has been common knowledge for years that the current dump has reached the end of its useful life and the expensive plans made are no longer an option given the country's financial position. So this alternative is a win – win.

    Instead of being obstructionists why doen't the protesters fight to assure recycling is mandated to assure the new facility will be operated under 21st century standards. This would be much more constructive than their current strategy.  

  23. Anonymous says:

    Very well written sir, your arguments and thesis are correct. I applaud educated people like yourself and pray that in the end you shall triumph.