DEH 10 years behind, says director

| 29/11/2019 | 65 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) director told Finance Committee that garbage management is some ten years behind in terms of staff and equipment. Richard Simms said resources had not increased for more than a decade, despite the growing population and the amount of garbage being generated. As the committee turned its attention to the more than CI$6 million annual budget to collect rubbish, it emerged that it would still not be enough to end the garbage troubles.

Simms explained that eleven new garbage trucks had been ordered to be delivered over this forthcoming budget period. Although the DEH currently has 14 trucks, only eight are in good condition, he said. The rest will be retired, so they will still be short of the 21 truck target.

Simms said new staff were being recruited but it emerged that this would not be enough to increase operations. He explained that he had asked for a bigger budget so that they could increase the headcount but was only given enough to recruit three new drivers.

As opposition members teased out the evident staff shortage, Environmental Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said that while the members were “onto something”, the department needed reliable trucks before they could employ more people.

Simms said the staffing problems meant his department had to be “creative” by using the temporary use of private sector collection services and using prisoners as support staff on the trucks. But he said the department needed more people, given the importance of garbage collection to everyone and its role in supporting tourism with a clean environment.

The minister said he was committed to doing what was necessary to make sure the DEH gets the full complement of staff it needs, but admitted again that there had been a lot of embarrassment about the garbage collection problems.

Seymour said the new director was doing his best to deal with the situation with what he had and the ministry would do whatever was necessary to make sure he had what he needed. However, the minister failed to answer the question of why he wasn’t doing it now.

In response to questioning, the director also stated that there was no long-term or overarching policy plan for garbage collection and recycling.

Updating members on the more than two-year talks about the full waste-management plan and the waste-to-energy facility with the preferred bidder, Seymour said the capping will begin in the new year. He said this would prevent the dump from leaching when it rains, and the energy facility would be built alongside that process. A holding area on the landfill would be used for the rubbish until the plant was finished.

Jim Schubert, the project manager on the proposed waste-management solution, said that the talks were not about increases in costs but technicalities, logistics and functionality. He said that the final contract price would be the same as the bid.

Schubert was unable to explain the decision not to mine the landfill before capping it to reduce the mound and feed the new incinerator, helping it generate more fuel to reduce costs. He said it was decided several years ago over the nuisance level, but he had not made the decision. However, he did say that say the methane and other garbage gases would be mined.

No dates were given about when the ministry expected to sign a contract or when construction was expected to start on the waste-to-energy facility.

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Category: environmental health, Government Finance, Health, Politics

Comments (65)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Before you start burning trash, remember, there are no regulations exists in the CI

    * Europe.
    The Waste Incineration Directive
    Summary of Directive 2000/76/EC on the incineration of waste (the WI Directive)
    The WI Directive entered into force on 28 December 2000. It repealed former directives on the incineration of hazardous waste (Directive 94/67/EC) and household waste (Directives 89/369/EEC and 89/429/EEC) and replaced them with a single text. The aim of the WI Directive is to prevent or to reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment caused by the incineration and co-incineration of waste. In particular, it should reduce pollution caused by emissions into the air, soil, surface water and groundwater, and thus lessen the risks which these pose to human health.
    This is to be achieved through the application of operational conditions, technical requirements, and emission limit values for incineration and co-incineration plants within the EU.
    The WI Directive sets emission limit values and monitoring requirements for pollutants to air such as dust, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF), heavy metals and dioxins and furans. The Directive also sets controls on releases to water resulting from the treatment of the waste gases. Most types of waste incineration plants fall within the scope of the WI Directive

    * USA
    The Clean Air Act and Waste Incineration
    The CAA requires EPA to establish new source performance standards (NSPS) for new incineration facilities and emission guidelines for existing facilities. Emission guidelines require states to develop plans for controlling emissions from facilities within their jurisdictions. Once EPA has approved the states’ plans, they become federally enforceable. Standards and regulations are developed by EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation for incinerators that burn municipal solid waste or medical waste. Regulations for hazardous-waste incinerators and cement kilns are developed by EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response under the CAA and RCRA (as will be discussed below).
    Regulations developed under the CAA are intended to limit atmospheric concentrations of the six criteria pollutants (i.e., carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide) and control emissions of 188 air toxics (also known as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)).

    Waste management in Japan, rules and figures.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your government continues to ‘manage ‘ waste as if it is still 1960. The fact that there are 2 mil. annual visitors, 65,000 residents and composition of waste has changed dramatically remains unnoticed. They still believe that new trucks and unskilled labor plus unqualified management is all that needed. That capping and burning would solve the problem.
    Meantime the world has developed technologies in waste management that require advanced knowledge and skills, extensive and expensive training..
    So it is not 10, but at least 60 years behind.
    If CIG is thinking that trash burning by unskilled laborers is all that needed, and there are no regulations whatsoever, they must get prepared for the actions similar to that of the Port project. People won’t allow to turn Grand Cayman into a dioxin contaminated waste land. From breast milk to soils, sediments and food, especially dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish, plants, water and air, dioxin will accumulate everywhere.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Did I hear the minister responsible say that the dump need a mass burning? If so, what mentality is that by now polluting the precious air. Is this even allowable for him to say this on national TV?

  4. Anonymous says:

    So they got rid of Carter for overtime payments to an under staffed & under equipped department and Richard Simms in his previous role criticized Carter saying vehicle maintenance wasn’t the problem when Simms ran the Vehicle Maintenance Dept? What is Simms saying now exactly? He lied? Cause he himself now has to use private sector vehicles to manage the DEH demand !
    God Lord almighty!
    Will they sack Simms too? Is the problem really the Dept Head or the lack of funding from Central Government. ? Who will sack the Cabinet?

  5. Anonymous says:

    You need new, 21st century waste management system. Instead you continue applying bandaids to the dilapidated garbage collection process, having no idea what to do with the ever growing Dump. More, your government has never even brought the word “SYSTEM” into a conversation. It is all about ineptness.

    So what the waste management SYSTEM includes? It includes waste disposal systems, personnel training, and recycling. No parts in the system work separately, all are deeply integrated.

    Since there is no local expertise exists, and all you plan to do is to cap the dump and build WtE (aka Chernobyl), why not to revolutionary re-organize waste management in the Cayman Islands with insight into 22nd century?

    Instead of creating a bicycle, why not to hire the world’s experts in the filed, such as Japanese companies? Japan’s sophisticated waste management system has lessons for the rest of the world: everything from polystyrene to packaging for pills can be separated and recycled. When Japan’s economy began booming in the 1960s, so did its garbage problems, forcing the Japanese to work on waste management innovation.

    “A June 23 report in Nikkei Asian Review reveals that Japan’s environment ministry has set aside about $18.6 million (¥2 billion) in its fiscal 2019 budget for a public-private consortium that will develop proposals and bid on waste management deals in Southeast Asian nations, most of which face serious pollution challenges. The goal is to win contracts for Japanese companies and some goodwill.”


    Japan is a world leader when it comes to the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. Here are few facts:
    * Supermarkets have PET bottle shredders – providing shopping tokens in exchange for plastic – that cut down on the emissions created by collections. PET resin is then used to make everything from clothes and carpets, to new bottles.

    * there are apps that feature “dictionaries” to help people sort their waste, as well as alarms to remind people what to put out for collection on a given day.

    * Japan’s landmass is limited, so there’s little space for landfill sites, meaning garbage that can’t be recycled is often burned. However, burning waste produces harmful gases, including dioxins, which were reported to be contaminating soil and even breast milk. So over the past two decades, the country has been working on improving technology to reduce emissions from incineration in order to protect people and the environment. Between 1997 and 2003, dioxin emissions fell by 98%, according to the government.

    Once you are “done” with the port project (vote NO), your next focus must be on waste management. You can’t allow amateurs to spend millions and accomplish nothing. DO IT RIGHT FROM THE FIRST TIME.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very Simple – DEH. . . it is called a lack of leadership from the Minister in charge of your department. End of story. The Minister has failed failed and failed – hopefully his successor in 2021 will be able to do more than him.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So the director gets millions to buy 11 new trucks but only enough dollars to hire 3 drivers? I guess John John struggles once the count gets over 10 – he needs to take his shoes and socks off.

  8. Anonymous says:

    After the Port project is stopped, the proposed “remediation” of the Dump is next. Because everything that they plan to do with the Dump is wrong. On all levels.

    They are amateurs, not experts. Don’t allow them to proceed with anything, because just like with the port they don’t know what they are doing.

    YOU NEED TO DO IT RIGHT, FROM THE FIRST TIME, BUT YOU HAVE NO EXPERTISE. YOU CAN’T CONTINUE THE WAY YOU WERE BUILDING Clifton Hunter High School, Airport, etc. Too much at stake. The entire Grand Cayman might end-up being a toxic waste land when your Minister (s) is “…unable to explain the decision” and “…. failed to answer the question of why he wasn’t doing it now….”.

    Even Premier’s late father had more wisdom:
    ‘My boy, you cannot see it yet, but take it from me: The day is coming in Cayman when you’re going to need a degree to drive a garbage truck,’” said McLaughlin. “

    Hire Japanese who offer a service “package” that includes waste disposal systems, personnel training, and recycling, targeting the specific needs of individual countries.
    Hitachi Zosen, JFE Engineering, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have expertise in different aspects of trash management, like collection and separation. Japan wants to become Southeast Asia’s trash manager. Why not to ask them add the Cayman Islands?

    Japan’s sophisticated waste management system has lessons for the rest of the world: everything from polystyrene to packaging for pills can be separated and recycled.

  9. Rick says:

    All excuses. We had a $200m plus budget surplus, meaning overtaxation, and we cannot collect the garbage and fix the dump???

  10. Anonymous says:

    DWayne Seymour need I say more……

  11. Anonymous says:

    So we are installing a gas well ( for methane ). I wonder if DOE has anything to say about it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is at least ten years behind in government management. For all the right reasons.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because CIG is a parasitic organization, and to reach the highest levels one must be such a namesake in order to survive. Being straight and honest is a no no for such survival, much less if one is talented then you stand out for not being a collaborator. In fact you are blackballed and the players make sure you are well constrained.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Recycling starts at home. Start getting the public to sort their own rubbish out before it’s collected.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What about employing some of the people who participate in the island wide clean-up?

    How about some of those able-bodied people looking for work and getting benefits from NAU?

    Outsource to private companies?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hey how about this idea – we can transfer the $2Million designated for the Brac Turtle Centre to DEH – let common sense prevail on this issue.

  16. Narcissio Clarke says:

    Easy solution Cayman stop over development and reduce population reduce garbage and destruction of our little island it’s time Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      Better yet get rid of those who don’t contribute to the solution and only contribute to the problems. Third world edumacated

  17. Kathleen Bodden-Harris says:

    Our politicians & (as a matter of fact) ALL of us should be hanging our heads in shame!!!!!

  18. Anon says:

    10 years behind! Not enough st.aff. But Carter just got fired 2 years ago for paying an understaffed Department over time to collect garbage? Worse yet, why was he fired and not the Chief Officer? Over time payments could not have been paid without the CO’s knowledge

    • Anonymous says:

      Carter was retired not fired! And this shows he was not to blame at all and in fact now fully vindicated. Man was clearly given a basket to carry wata.

  19. This is my home. I live here. says:

    Japan is offering service packages that include waste disposal systems, personnel training, and recycling, targeting the specific needs of individual countries.

    Advanced waste disposal technology makes Tokyo the cleanest city.

  20. Anonymous says:

    10 years behind? That’s good in Cayman. Certain MLA’s are still dinosaurs, like Eden for example. They need updating and replacing first. That the main priority.

    • Anonymous says:


      Eden gets voted in so he must represent some segment of our society.

      You, on the other hand, are just plain disrespectful of him and those he represent.

      What should we call you?

      Nothing…. no, we will not sink to your level, young man.

      • Anonymous says:

        You can call me what you want, I don’t care. I did not call Eden anything, I just stated what he is and what he represents. Respect him? I will never respect a man who wants to restrain the human rights of others or restrict peoples freedom of speech and deport people who disagree with him. That’s what the Nazi’s, Soviets, Cuban leaders, Venezuela leaders do…not so great is it? You are showing your own colours.

  21. Anonymous says:

    ‘DEH 10 years behind, says director.’ Only 10 years? I’d say more like 30 years, particularly when it comes to recycling.

    • Anonymous says:

      recycling is actually not all that effective use of energy or dollars. it can also be worse than just landfilling it.
      For example:
      Now recycling yard/lawn/bush into usable soil probably makes sense here since we are already importing dirt. Using our tax dollars to just manage waste effectively would be a good start.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just viewed the video – is that trash journalism your only grounds for dissing recycling? If so you’re a fool. Where I come from in the UK over 80% of materials put out for recycling in the fortnightly bin collections or dropped at the recycling centres are recycled and it’s all done by a private contractor. The household green bins now take glass, paper (including shredded documents), cardboard, glass, steel and aluminium cans, plastic bottles, aerosols, foil food trays, plastic food trays, wax cartons, even phone books, and it’s all sorted and recycled. As the saying goes, ‘It’s not rocket science.’

  22. Caymanian Donkey says:

    Richard probably has the toughest job in our government he’s been give a lame goat and unfortunately been set up for sale as our premier and others are only interested in this bloody port.
    There are so many more issues and Richards dept need to be in the top three along with education and crime.
    Unfortunately his words will go on deaf ears and we’ll be 15yrs behind in a couple of years.
    Good luck Richard we really hope those donkeys listen to you and provide you with the funds.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Garbage smarbage.

    Keep the development train rolling, don’t worry about how to flush toilets for 2 million day visitors and the other trash they make. After all, they can just dump those trinkets from China in the ocean when they sail off for Cozumel or Jamaica.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Remember when Simms (in his old job) and the minister were saying that (1) it’s not vehicle maintainance or lack of vehicles problem, and (2) the old Boss got ‘sacked’ for too much overtime (trying to get more work out of fewer people)? How the story changes but the Problem doesn’t.

  25. Anonymous says:

    DEH get out of the commercial garbage collection business. Focus your efforts on the household garbage collection ONLY. Make all properties comply with the current requirements for commercial/multi-unit residential developments.
    There are multiple private companies providing the skip rental & collection services. Govt no longer needs to be competing in this sector. The private companies provide a much more reliable service. Competition keeps the pricing under control.
    MLA’s this should be happening in 2020 instead of replacing front-loader trucks and staff.
    p.s. – I have no interest in any of the private companies, just is getting a better service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here it is not about getting a job done. Obviously. It’s about spreading out the money and getting their fair share. It is about making sure that Caymanians are so dependent on Government handouts (jobs, cars, washing machines,cash, paying the CUC bills, etc. that they will do anything to keep their masters in office and in charge of the big cash machine. Most of those who have been on the receiving end for so long realize that they no longer could(even if they wanted to) get and keep a job in the private sector. No usable skill, no experience at producing a required amount of work, and no work ethic so they can not compete with anyone in the real world. Face up Caymanians. they now own you. You can not live in a world that does not pay you what these guys will. If they are voted out you would lose everything. And so they will be voted back in next time and the time after that as long as you still need them.

  26. Anonymous says:

    “…ten years behind in terms of staff and equipment…”? I cannot question that comment of the DEH Director in relation to staff complement but I distinctly recall seeing public media releases by the DEH of the deployment of new trucks and crusher equipment (perhaps at separate times) while Osbourne Bodden was Minister for that Department. That was certainly less than 10 years ago!! Are facts being distorted here?

    Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    CNS, perhaps you might have access to prior press releases regarding new DEH equipment in order to gain a perspective?

    • Anonymous says:

      I was thinking that too. Someone needs to tell them to look after and drive the trucks better and have more consideration for sleeping neighborhoods when they are out at 3 in the morning, abusing the trucks, unnecessary revs, yelling at each other and clanging and banging seemingly making as much noise as they possibly can. The one morning they were noticeably quieter, turns out an MLA was sat in the cab (or so I am told). Also using the trucks for personal/friends/family purposes during work hours needs to stop. We, the public who pay for all of this want the rampant abuse of the public purse by all to end.

  27. Anonymous says:

    We spent $9M so far on the Dump but will only allow the DEH to have $6M for a real problem that exists in Cayman…Something is wrong folks…It’s time to retire these people we call Ministers and MLA’s..

  28. Anonymous says:

    Fix the damn dump!

  29. Anonymous says:

    why not start a national program encouraging people to start at home compost heaps. It won’t solve everything, but it’s a start. I started to composting at home and finding creative ways to reuse stuff and I must say, it has made a difference in the amount of trash that I create.

    Just my two cents…

    • Anonymous says:

      rats will be the next problem and then the Department of Agriculture will have to get involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bury your food scraps in the back yard. The garden will love it!

    • Anonymous says:

      Certainly it would be great if DEH would start a national program to encourage persons to start composting, however, I have been composting leaves and vegetable and fruit scraps for the last 5 years. It is so easy to do. I allocated a 2 x 6 ft., corner in my back yard and it is amazing how well it works. I leave it open and as it break down I get the benefit of pepper, tomato, papaya cherry etc., seedlings to replant and share with my family and friends. Then of course I dig out the soil to top up my plant beds!!. If anyone really want to compost and they are not sure what to do just google it. There is so much information out there you can’t get it wrong.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Two dumpsters are overflowing into the parking lot in my apartment complex. Frigging gross! Sort it out and forget about the god damn port you morons in suits!

  31. Anonymous says:

    After numerous public-funded consultation studies, and several international waste management field trips, the DEH Minister can’t pretend he is not ultimately responsible for the (a) lack of application vision, (b) deferred strategic planning, (c) untold ecological contamination, and (d) failure to secure an implementation budget. Simms is not the guy to blame here, and neither is DECCO. It’s Dwayne Seymour. Where did the money go? Tell us again why we shouldn’t need to see all the accounts and conflicts of our serving public servants?!?

    • Anonymous says:

      You did note who the minister is ……. should explain everything!

      • Anonymous says:

        Let’s not forget, Alden made him the Minister, and retains him in that position, despite the non-performance…what are we missing folks?

        • Anonymous says:

          Alden sure love his yesmen/women to shore up his stupid agendas. He can always depend on them not having an original thought.

    • Anonymous says:

      If your looking for competency in management then how will these fools survive?

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been trying to pay them online for a year now for our strata. We don’t have cheque books as all payments are done online and I’m not going to the bank, drawing out a wad of cash, driving down to god knows where, waiting in line and then fighting traffic back to my office. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do if you want paying.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, and meanwhile the most time consuming, labour and equipment wear-intensive home collections are free in limitless quantities. No mandatory recycling. Dunces in charge. Thank you to all households who voluntarily take the time to separate recyclables. Hopefully these are actually going off-Island and not back into the landfill, or mt trashmore would surely be higher than it already is.

    • Concerned says:

      Order and mail a bank draft.
      Problem solved. No need to thank me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Switch to a private company. Online payment & reliable service.

    • Anonymous says:

      10.51am Then you should lose your service and be fined too.

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