WTE garbage needs may not fit CIG policy

| 18/03/2019 | 62 Comments
Cayman News Service

The George Town dump smouldering during one of its underground fires

(CNS): A representative of the Dart-led consortium selected as the preferred bidder to roll out a national waste-management system has said that when the project gets underway, the waste-to-energy plant will need more than 85,000 tonnes of garbage to produce around 7.5 megawatts of energy per year, or about 8% of Grand Cayman’s energy needs. Currently an estimated 100,000 tonnes of rubbish goes to the landfill each year, so if government plans to implement its reduce, reuse and recycle policy as well as composting agricultural waste, the amount of garbage needed to feed the WTE plant could fall short of targets.

Nevertheless, according to Martin Edelenbos, Dart’s engineering coordinator for solid waste management, there will still be an incentive for people to reduce and reuse the waste they produce as well a need to promote more recycling because there will be more than enough garbage to feed the WTE. Encouraging people to send less rubbish to the landfills will also prevent the need for a second plant in the future, he said.

However, according to the government’s own figures, in 2015 all three islands were producing around 66,000 tonnes of rubbish per year. But by the end of 2017, with improvements in data collection and research as well as a growing population, that number had grown to around 100,000 tonnes, with almost one-third of that being vegetation and agriculture waste, which is expected to become part of a composting initiative within the proposed waste-management plan.

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Currently, only around 1% of garbage is recycled, which government says it is hoping to boost significantly, though so far there is no sign of a campaign to encourage the three top elements of the waste-pyramid (reduce, reuse, recycle), which officials have insisted is forming the basis of government policy.

Even though it appears that the planned composting, reducing, reusing and recycling would undermine the 7.5 megawatt energy target because the result would be insufficient garbage, Edelenbos denied that this would be a disincentive for Dart to promote the waste-pyramid policy.

Speaking briefly at a short breakout session on the project at the RICS Property and Construction Conference last week, Edelenbos said that although the talks regarding the contract between DECCO, the Dart contractor leading the negotiations, and the government have gone on for around 18 months, that was not a particularly long time for such a project.

He said that the parties now expect to sign contracts for the implementation of the national plan sometime in the summer, but it will be another three years after that before the WTE plant will be up and running and the remediation completed.

Edelenbos said that once the contract is signed, work will begin on both the plant and the remediation of the current dump in George Town. However, it is not clear how the landfill, which is now almost 100 feet high, will actually function during the capping process as it will be late 2022 before the plant will be ready to burn the islands’ waste. Overall, the government is seeking a 25-year solution to the islands’ waste.

Last November Environmental Health Minister Dwayne Seymour indicated that the project would be finished before the end of 2021, but since the government finally produced a strategic outline case for the project in April 2015, the completion date has been pushed further and further back.

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Category: environmental health, Health

Comments (62)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The cruise ships would PAY US to take their garbage! They sure as heck pay per tonne to offload it in the States. We would have no problem “upping” our garbage output to fit the requirements of the smallest sized plant.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    So build the plant smaller and save some money. Buying the right size is not that difficult. I guess the alternative would be to barge the garbage in from a neighbor. We could remediate Haiti or Jamaica!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Recycling, while good, only serves as a band-aid to the much larger problem of over-consumption.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So what is the the solution? Do we gather up half the population and throw them into the sea? Do we limit how much stuff a person can buy at the grocery store? Do we lobby companies to reduce the amount of packaging in their products? All thriving populations over consume its in our nature which is a lot harder to change then building a recycling plant to process bio-waste to turn into fuel, Harvesting the methane fermenting into the dump. Shredding the tires and turning them into asphalt or mulch for playgrounds and track fields. If the plant is too successful and out works itself..thats a good problem to have. The land the the dump occupies could useable for commercial businesses, warehouses, aquaponics, farmland, wind or solar farms.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    To refresh your memory, as of today, DEH does not track emissions I am talking about incinerators, not WTE).

    “The George Town and Cayman Brac landfill incinerators have burned nearly 2 million pounds of trash since August 2016, all without the use of scrubbers – devices to remove toxins from the incinerators’ exhaust.” ““Burning municipal waste, especially in the absence of pollution filters, is often viewed as risky for a community because these emissions can contain many different toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, or plastics,” said Mr. Peltier, who is an atmospheric chemist and researches human exposure to air pollutants. “This can lead to sickness and even death in a community because these pollutants can travel great distances from an incinerator.” (Compass)https://www.caymancompass.com/2018/10/03/no-air-pollution-controls-at-landfill-incinerators/

    ” DEH official pointed to Section 4, “Requirements of Incinerators”, explaining this details the “conditions for operating an incinerator, its emissions as well as ash sampling as per EPA (the US Environmental Protection Agency) methods”.
    While the DEH has provisions in place to monitor the construction and operation of incinerators, the official explained that the regulations do not include the “guidelines indicating what pollutants one should test for”. In addition, the DEH does not have the “necessary equipment to allow for adequate monitoring of such emissions at this time”.
    As for when the DEH will be able to test for these emissions, “It is hoped that (the department) will be able to do so in the foreseeable future.” (CNS) https://cnslocallife.com/2018/09/emissions-incinerators/

    Now lets talk about WTE.

    WTE begins with enacting legislation and promulgation of regulations calling for increasingly stringent environmental control for municipal solid-waste incinerators (WTE). Regulatory usually activity begins with nuisance regulations (related to visible plumes and to odors) and then evolves to emission and performance standards WTE must comply with.

    Some sort of nuisance regulation probably exists in the Cayman Islands as DOE officials pointed, in Section 4, “Requirements of Incinerators”, however it is not enforced and there are no “guidelines indicating what pollutants one should test for”. ROLLING MY EYES OUT.

    So WTE must comply with regulations that DON’T even EXIST in the Cayman Islands. How one would get permits to built WTE plant in the absence of laws and regulations they must comply with?

    People who live near operating WTE facilities and citizens who must be asked to accept such facilities into their local area would want assurance that the facilities will be operated safely and in compliance with regulations intended to protect the public health, safety, and the environment. People most directly affected by a proposed facility must be told about the hazards associated with new incineration facilities an ability of the facility to be operated over an extended period in compliance with law. BUT THERE ARE NO REGULATIONS and LAWS, remember, and I doubt DOE knows a thing about the hazards.

    “The unintended and uncontrolled release of toxic substances into the environment from WTE can occur because of malfunctioning equipment, large changes in the waste feedstream, poor management of the incineration process, or inadequate maintenance or housekeeping. Off-normal operations (e.g., upsets and accidents) at various points in the incineration process might result in explosions; fires; the release of smoke, ash, or noxious odors into the atmosphere; and the spilling or leakage of contaminated or toxic substances.”

    This forms a concrete basis for the concerns of nearby residents and other concerned citizens about the safety of WTE plant and the efficacy of regulatory oversight that as we know now don’t even exists in the Cayman Islands. This concerns are not limited to worst-case scenarios, but extend to events that occur in the normal course of operations at what are otherwise considered properly run and maintained facilities. Automatic shut- offs and and cut-offs must be in place for the purpose of minimizing emissions when operating conditions are outside permitted limits. BUT THERE ARE NO ESTABLISHED LIMITS YET, LET ALONE QUALIFIED PERSONNEL, remember.

    Further, there are emergency bypass or vent stack that allows an operator to bypass the air-pollution control equipment. The frequency of occurrence of such emergency bypass venting by WTE facilities is UNKNOWN.

    Do you still want to build WTE in Grand Cayman? Do you still want to build WTE in the heart of the prime tourism and residential area?

    In the USA and Europe the list of WTE regulations relevant to public health and the environment is extensive. The Cayman Islands has to start from scratch in this area.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    “7.5 megawatts of energy per year”

    What a huge pile of garbage/GCSE physics fail. Watts are a unit of power not energy.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    incredibly disappointing update…..the incompetence of cig is never ending….

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  7. Eddie says:

    I was hoping they would cap it and make a skii hill out of it.

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  8. Johnny Be Good says:

    Again the economics of scale dictate the immediate and future solution. Mr. Edelenbos should we’ll know the problems Bermuda went through when they decided to installed a WTE with a waste demand larger than what they produced. Eventually they got their WTE commissioned, that is 9 years after the tender was signed.

    No doubt the Dart elves were busy sowing the seeds for long ago for effecting a massive population growth in the near future, now we have proof from the chief puppet himself.

    These diverging agendas don’t suit the solution, aren’t we all being told to recycle where possible. Now we are being told that we may have to scale back on recycling? The silence on the development of this solution is as deafening as the cruise port proposal. One thing we are not being told is that we’ll all be paying a fee whether in another duty fee or surcharge for running this WTE plant and Dart will benefit by directly supplying Camana Bay with his own electricity, the circuits have already been installed to effect this.

    Some hard questions need to be answered before this gets commissioned, and we have some time here considering what happened in Bermuda. Who will be the watchdog on emissions 24/7/365 since the fallout will be predominantly central GT to Seven Mile Shops? We don’t need another untouchable monopoly running this as CUC has and is running a muck with emissions, don’t even ask DEH about this. Who will be operating this plant and who will be accountable for any environmental issues stemming from improper operation or negligence, and again don’t bother asking DEH about this. How much fuel will be required to assist the mass burn on a monthly basis as glass, metal and mineral derived waste don’t burn?

    Lastly, there are tried and tested modular plants in use around the world in small jurisdictions than here, have these be exhaustively researched or are the players involved just trying to push the biggest plant they can get away with. One benefit of modular WTE plants fit our model in that we could also begin to decentralise the solid waste collection and processing. The other benefit is that CIG would not have to put its eggs all in one basket and spend an arm and a leg on a plant that is oversized.

    I hope the real truth comes out and the educated people out there get to weigh inbut fear that this is another done deal.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Lay off the herb ? brah.

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    • Anonymous says:

      According to this article, the amount currently recycled is about 1,000 tonnes and the amount needed to be recycled to impact the WTE is more than 15,000 tonnes. Considering DEH can barely collect the recyclables people collect now, something tells me that is not going to be an issue for a very long time….

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    • Anonymous says:

      easy to pick holes and offer no solutions…..

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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for your comment.
      “Who will be the watchdog on emissions 24/7/365 since the fallout will be predominantly central GT to Seven Mile Shops?” A Million dollar question.
      Unfortunately, due to the nature of fallouts which you won’t be able to see, smell or touch, people, including CIG would pretend they don’t exist. And unfortunately the auditor general won’t be able to help you here.
      General population of Grand Cayman, including highly educated expats and status holders is extremely “tolerant” to the very thing that is killing them, though slowly, today -the Dump and WTE tomorrow.
      It is impossible to understand why gay marriages generate so much intolerance on all levels and hardly anybody is concerned with the proposed WTE. Noone would be spared from WTE fallouts, improper operation and controls.
      It is impossible to understand people who run, walk, swim,hold gala events etc. raising money for cancer and do absolutely nothing for the very thing that causes cancer, birth defects, congenital abnormalities, mental issues etc. They even send their children to a school near the foot of the Dump. How idiotic this is?

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      • Ignorant is as ignorant does says:

        Seems people are happy sucking up emissions from CUC, dump and sewage plant. The proposed WTE will just add to the airborne soup and no connection will be made to the inevitable health effects.

  9. Anonymous says:

    OK now in complete seriousness, do you think the CIG is up to the task of resolving the now exposed dump at any time now or in the future?
    According to the article 100 tons of garbage/year is added to the dump. So how long has the CIG failed to deal with the dump? Lets say 10 years and be kind to the CIG. We are talking about 1,000,000 tons of additional garbage.
    If the CIG increases population without fixing the dump what do you think will happen?
    Will the new dock fix that problem?

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  10. Anonymous says:

    CIG policy? Funniest thing I’ve heard since the chicken first crossed the road.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    This has to be the most hilarious article I have ever read!!

    Now Cayman does not produce enough garbage!? I give up!

    Perhaps, if the garbage collectors would actually pick the garbage up, they’d have enough?

    But onward from that nonsense – I suppose the new construction of a 50 story tower would ramp up said garbage output to sufficient levels for DART’s WTE…..

    Regardless, even at today’s mountainous levels, that is ALOT of trash per capita.

    What an embarrassment for our leaders in 2019 who are out there in the world touting First World status.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    More reason to get a 100,000 more people here so Dart can make money on the garbage plant! Good job unity team as you guys can contribute quite a bit of cra@ on your own!

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  13. Anonymous says:

    as usual….a total non-update on this urgent issue. i can only imagine the dart’s team frustration in dealing with cig.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    The Dump Project will finally be completed by 2100 if the current rate of movement on this project continues as it has the past 15 years. Problem is that every time a new government comes in the can is kicked down the road again.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is too funny to be true but while we are on the subject can I ask a silly question? Can we take all the sargassum grass from the beach to the dump to make up the shortfall? As the saying goes- one persons thrash is another’s treasure! I do t think we will need to bring in anymore people to make that work.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you being serious? I can’t tell?

        That sargassum grass is fabulous fertilizer. A rinse in a rain shower and then out to dry and then into your garden. BABOOOOOM!

        • Anonymous says:

          I understand what you’re saying, but I wanted to highlight that you’re washing seaweed. To put in the dirt. Just saying.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sargassum makes for excellent fertiliser. It should be used for that and not sent to the dump.

  15. People For a Dump Free G.T. says:

    Fix the damn dump Alden!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I can’t as Mose and I are to busy with the dock project and Prince Charles is coming to visit us! Don’t worry our boss Dart & CHEC will soon get it all taken care of.

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  16. GOAB 4th floor says:

    The time has come for DG Franz Manderson to fire Jennifer Ahearn now and remove Dwene Seymour as Minister of Rubbish. Inept fails to describe these jokers two plotting the future of waste management for Cayman’s future.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Here here, axe the numpty dumpty and his enabling first officer, but make sure we have Wayne Panton lined up to be the next minister first. As for the numpty’s swivel chair jockey of public image, she shouldn’t be that hard to replace.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Where, where?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Wayne has 4 years and what did he do? Allowed the DOE to tell him how to run his ministry. What’s the definition of madness …?

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      • Anonymous says:

        You really think Wayne wants to be the next Minister of the dump? He will have to take Tara’s job. I don’t think Big Mac will allow that.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Believe the time has come for Wayne Panton to be the next Premier. The most effective Minister in the last Government who fully understands both the financial services sector and the environment.

        Please get back into politics Mr. Panton. The Cayman Islands needs you as Premier. Run for the leadership next year.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Oh please!, anyone remembers ” the legal practitioners bill” that was totally freezing out small local lawyers’ firms? As well as saving every lizard and not giving a hoot for we the people !

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        • Anonymous says:

          I agree Wayne would be a good Premier but unfortunately you cant tell people the truth because if you do they wont vote for you. So get ready for more of the same.

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    • Anonymous says:

      4th floor oh not you again. Exactly what’s the problem now. This is a complex project and while it is moving much too slow for even someone like you. It is obvious that for the first time in our islands island’s history we will finally fix the dump.

      Since when can the DG remove a Minister. Oh and try and correct your spelling, its Dwayne. I doubt you work in the civil service.

      Get back on vacation 4th floor.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What did you learn during your visit to GOAB 4th floor? You expect the DG to remove a Minister.

    • Anonymous says:

      That will never happen but they will hire a few more of those maple leaf’s to hang around collecting a nice paycheck.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It is impossible to remediate an unlined dump that is 100 feet high. They might make it look pretty though. I don’t even want to start on WTE.

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