Closing George Town dump – ignoring the perfect solution

| 18/07/2012

Recently, Minister Mark Scotland was on a local talk show, once again reminding us that the real reason we need to close the George Town dump is that we simply cannot afford to keep it there. He also spent lot of time trying to dispel the belief that Wheelabrator had presented government with a perfect solution that was being ignored.

I found his comments to be quite interesting, because the arguments currently in circulation in favor of keeping the dump in George Town is that the waste could simply be mined down and burned to create energy, thus dismantling the mountain, producing free electricity and preventing the contamination of a new site. On the surface this seems to make sense; however, as Minister Scotland who, apart from being the representative for Bodden Town is also an engineer, clearly explained, if it was that simple, waste-to-energy would have happened by now.

According to Minister Scotland, the last government hired consultants to help them figure out if waste-to-energy was worth pursuing at George Town dump, and although the consultants agreed that it was possible, they apparently raised some very significant challenges in their report, which remain central to the current debate.

According to what I understood from the minister’s comments, the consultants said it would take about $120 million to get the new system set up, and then it would require on-going annual funding of about $20 million for operation.

They also estimated that two-thirds of the waste buried deep inside Mt Trashmore was not suitable for burning in a waste to energy plant, and went on to say that mining the waste to separate out its burnable components would be very slow and take about 20 years.

According to Minister Scotland, the consultants also advised that government would need to buy more land next to the dump to locate the waste to energy plant.  As he put it, “Government simply does not have the money to do this.”

However, despite these obvious challenges, there are many who still believe that Wheelabrator, a big profit-driven US company, could somehow step in and magically present us with an affordable, timely, space saving plan to pump power out of Mt. Trashmore.

According to CNS andthe people on Rooster, Wheelabrator “had provided all the required elements to successfully complete the project and a comprehensive breakdown of their approach.” If that were true, then details have certainly never been made public. But if you insist on believing that line, I have a goldmine in Cayman Brac that I want to sell you. 

It is obvious to me that waste-to-energy at the George Town dump would be a waste of money because any sustainable solution to Cayman’s waste problems must rest on the introduction of a comprehensive island-wide recycling program so that another landfill mountain doesn’t simply pile up.

Anything else would be a waste. Determining exactly what government’s plans are for the recycling component of a new facility is where our actions should be targeted.

This, my friends is the perfect solution that is being constantly ignored.

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  1. St Peter says:

    I am going to comment on this article – but first let me read it again.

    Oops – sorry its not worth my comment.

    Now back to my job of making sure that no 'political-hypocrites' or people who voted 'no' slips through the door to heaven.


  2. Anonymous says:

    If our Govt wants to fix the dump then moving it is not fixing it!!!!  I guarantee that the same problems will be carried somewhere else when it is realised it is more expensive than they thought to move it.  For those of you who complain about it being in your back yard, let me remind you our dump was there before your backsides and your backyards.  While I share your sentiments that the smell and runoff is a problem, I would like to say that it does not take a rocket scientist to say that the problems could be the same in another location.  Moving the dump is a solution for DART and BENEFITS ONLY DART and his cronies.  Fixing the dump where it is is the best solutiojn for all and Government needs to stop wasting money on such things ascampaigning against OMOV and put their funds to better use instead of using the excuse that they are broke to give concessions to DART.  Wise up and be an EDUCATED LEADER, NOT A FOOLISH FOLLOWER.

  3. um trash tax says:

    for the dump to be successful in the future and for waste to enegry & recycling to be implemented the Department of Enviromental Health (i.e. trash department) is going to be replaced with a private company. Now as soon as the politican's can accept that their ministry will or should rather be shrinking in the future and that their voters will be at the mercy of yet another monopoly we can see them flinching around in their chairs and generally getting less done.

    With the massive amount of centralization and privatization that will (out of financial need) be occurring in Cayman in the very near future I can hardly see why we need more ministers and MLAs.



  4. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands solicited bids for the remediation of the George Town dump in 2010, and after consideration by a team of qualified people the contract was awarded to Wheelabrator Technologies. See here


    As you can see by visiting the website of the Central Tenders Committee, there was a lot more things taken into consideration than what the Minister chose to highlight with sound bites on the radio.


    Perhaps the Minister is correct in his assessment, but independent audits of the most recent cases where Government Ministers decided to override the advice received from the qualified people chosen to evaluate bids have not painted a flattering picture.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Recycling does not deal with the enormous stinking pile in your backyard.

  6. Anonymouse says:

    And if you believe the unsubstantiated claims by the minister not for dumps I have an oil well in Little Cayman to sell you.

    Trust, but verify. Have them publish all of the reports they keep claiming to have. In their entirety.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The dump has to close, has anyone seen the filthy streams that run off it directly into North Sound when there's heavy rain? While it's all very well to say that there must be better spots than Bodden Town, at the end of the day if Dart is motivated enough by it's own interests to pay the enormous costs of shutting down george-town, and cleaning it up to a standard that allows them to develop the space (as obviously they will want to), PLUS provide alot of land for the new facility, then i do think it's time to accept the first affordable and realistic answer that's been offered up for a long time…