EAB dump review curtailed
(CNS): Board minutes released by the Water Authority following a freedom of information request have revealed that government limited the parameters of an environmental review of the proposed new waste-management site in Bodden Town. The minutes show that the Environmental Advisory Board set up to assess the proposal for Dart to establish a new landfill in the Midland Acres area must confine itself to examining the proposal and not to what would be the most suitable overall waste management solution for Grand Cayman. The revelation has outraged the members of a local pressure group campaigning to have the George Town dump dealt with on site and not moved to their district.
The Coalition to Keep Bodden town Dump Free made the FOI request for information and were stunned to see that the minutes reveal explicit orders from government ministers to the EAB to limit what it reviews and not to look at alternate sites or consider other solutions but to look solely at the dart proposition.
Although an EAB is not yet a legal requirement in Cayman because of the failure of the government to enact the National Conservation Bill on larger projects, the boards are being established as a matter of good governance. However, in this case the terms of reference have been significantly curtailed to examine the impact on the immediate environment of the first part of the new site the islands’ largest developer has promised to construct in exchange for the current landfill.
Dart proposes to build only phase one -- a single cell on what could eventually be a state of the art waste-management centre -- if government were to make the rest of necessary investment to set up recycling, reuse, composting or waste to energy solutions. Once Dart has lined the one landfill cell site, it intends to hand that over to the Department of Environmental Health to manage and then it proposes to take over the George Town dump to remediate and cap that site, which is next to its major investment, Camana Bay.
The minutes make it clear that Dart proposes only to develop one landfill cell site and no other elements of the new facility on a 100-acre site. Government has touted the proposal as a modern eco-park but the minutes show Dart is only proposing to create a new lined cell where the DoEH can start a new garbage pile. Any further investment or development of modern waste-management facilities will be in the hands of government.
The coalition continues to be alarmed at the proposal as it says it wants to see government tackle the dump at the present location instead of risking contamination of a new site, especially given its environmentally sensitive location, its proximity to residential communities and that it is a considerable distance from the capital, where the majority of waste is generated.
Campaigners have raised concerned that no research or analysis has been done about the proposed new dump and that government has simply accepted the Dart proposal without properly considering the alternatives, especially after the original Dart bid for the landfill was rejected by the technical committee set up by government when it carried out an RFP for the dump soon after assuming office. The CTC had recommended a waste-to-energy solution on site in GT with a leading American waste firm Wheelabrator, which had partnered with Cayman Waste Management Ltd, a local company.
The coalition has persistently asked government to identify clearly the reasons why it ditched its agreement to tender the waste-to-energy facility to solve the George Town landfill problem where it is, without contaminating a new site.
“Government inexplicably ignored due process, transparency, and the Central Tenders Committee (CTC), which recommended the WTE proposal as its first choice. The CTC rejected Dart’s proposal to move the dump and gave it the lowest marks of any option considered, because of 'grave concern' about the impact of a dump in an 'environmentally sensitive' area,” a coalition spokesperson said this week on receiving the minutes. “Government and Dart have yet to answer a single Coalition question, or produce any of the documents asked for.”
Campaigners received responses to FOI requests last month from both the NRA and the planning department, both of which stated they had no records to release in response to the request by the coalition about meetings with Dart on the proposed new dump.
Flyers placed in Bodden Town post boxes in early February from the ForCayman Investment Alliance stated that "meetings have occurred” between Dart and Government about the proposed new Bodden Town landfill, a claim not supported by either plannnig or the NRA.
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