EAB: Legislation needed to manage ReGen project

| 11/04/2024 | 41 Comments
Location of ReGen, artist’s rendition

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government could have problems holding the Dart-led consortium that will be running the ReGen waste-management operations to account because there is no legislative framework to support the project and its ancillary elements, the Environmental Assessment Board has warned.

In a review of the Environmental Statement for the Integrated Solid Waste Management System (known as ReGen) that emerged from the environmental impact assessment, the EAB also said the decision to waive planning permission for the project means there will be no permit to which the required mitigation measures can be tied.

The EAB review, which was recently published on the National Conservation Council website, found that the Environmental Statement resulting from the EIA on this project is “an adequate representation of the environmental effects.”

However, the board also noted that Dart is unable to finalise the management plan at this point until financial closure on the project is reached, and there is no indication when or even if that is going to happen.

The review found that much of the oversight and accountability for this project and the subsequent running of all waste management in Grand Cayman, not just the waste-to-energy component, will be in that final agreement with the government, presenting a number of problems.

Given the lifetime of this project and the ongoing development and urbanisation of Cayman, having issues such as emission controls as part of the contract and not in separate legislation “may not be the most appropriate long-term solution”, the EAB warned in their review.

The technocrats noted that tying the need to meet international standards for air quality and penalties for non-performance to the contract is not transparent and should really be governed through legislation, as the parties involved will change over the next 25 years.

“The EAB therefore continues to be of the view that legislation ought to be promulgated which will govern air quality emissions from the Energy Recovery Facility as well as the water quality and other required monitoring which will come forward under the Environmental Management Plan (EMP). In addition, the legislation could extend to existing and/or future emissions from other sources e.g. CUC or other industrial emissions,” the board stated.

The EAB also found it problematic that planning permission had been waived. Building permits are not appropriate to enforce the conditions of the environmental management plan, and some of the monitoring requirements are long-term and part of the project’s operational phase.

“It is our understanding that the current version of the Project Agreement contains a section on Planning and EIA and there is a Performance Framework which will outline what happens if the obligations are not met,” the board said in the review.

However, the members noted that they had not seen this section of the contract and were therefore unable to say whether it could appropriately cover the commitments, monitoring and reporting elements of the plan.

“The EAB has concerns regarding continuity as the project moves out of the EIA phase into the construction and long-term operation. Contracts can be amended or revised (in either direction) and it may be difficult to refer to and enforce contractual terms over the 25+ years of the ReGen project,” the review warned. “The Cayman Islands Government (CIG) must ensure that the responsible agency is adequately empowered and resourced to fulfil the CIG obligations.”

The Department of Environmental Health is expected to take a lead role supported by the Water Authority and the Department of Environment.

“The ReGen project is a substantial operation that will require time and Cayman Islands Government resources and the EAB urges that arrangements for long-term environmental oversight of the project are specified and planned for,” the board said.

The EAB also raised concerns about some of the issues that have simply been left out of the process. Unusual waste, such as contaminated soil, sewage sludge, radioactive or other hazardous waste, is outside of the ReGen contract, and a special contract will be needed to deal with this, the board learned during the EIA process.

As uncommon as this sort of waste may be, it still exists and will eventually need to be managed, the EAB said, noting the uncertainty and potential liability for the government.

Nutrient loading into the marine environment is also a cause for concern as the remediation of the landfill was outside of the EIA. A risk assessment noted elevated levels of ammonia and related compounds could reach the North Sound, and although the levels are predicted to decline due to the capping of the unlined landfill, there remains a risk of nutrients seeping into the sea, fuelling algal blooms.

There is still no news on when, or even if, the CIG expects to reach financial close with Dart on this contract, which is now years behind schedule. Officials from the Ministry of Sustainability have still not replied to CNS inquiries about the current status of the talks.

See the full review on the NCC website here.

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Category: Environmental Health, Health

Comments (41)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just get it done!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    In yet another example of Cayman’s absurd reliance on bespoke dysfunction that runs counter to progress: nearly a decade after publication of the NRA Plan, there are neither delivered congruous bicycle corridors, nor the legislation to protect those areas from illegal parking and other intrusions. Even with a traffic congestion bottleneck, and a whole planet of reasonable solutions and examples, Cayman’s leadership, including career specialists presumably in these fields, very much struggle to incorporate this basic urban planning knowledge of infrastructure, solutions, and the supporting legislation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Can’t hide stupid.

  4. Anonymous says:

    With what regulations and under whose oversight is the environmental disaster that is our sewerage system being kept in check?

  5. Anonymous says:

    How’s the Cayman Water agreement coming along? Are they properly licenced and regulated tp provide potable water in the Cayman Islands?

  6. Chickens come home to roost but find no coop says:

    With the prevalent incompetence and apathy amongst the ranks of our leaders, civil service and electorate it is no wonder Dart rode in to Cayman and now nearly holds all the reins. We were and still are an easy mark.
    Our leaders lost the plot decades ago and now have really been caught with their pants down, proving ultimately that they have signed off on a project with environmental ramifications that they failed to acknowledge let alone comprehend.

    Yet, they continue to sell out and develop the islands without a sustainable vision or masterplan. Is anyone else astounded by the fact CIG has never drafted and ratified comprehensive, robust environmental legislation in this small island state with such a fragile, vulnerable ecosystem? The first tip off of brewing trouble in case anyone missed it was government officials waiving the planning process for the construction of ReGen, most likely since they had no expertise in the matter. Seems like the Ministry responsible for this project were also expecting to leave operational management oversight totally in Dart’s hands with no oversight whatsoever.

    Leaving industry to self regulate and monitor their own operations, something Water Authority and CUC have done since inception, in the interest of public safety is a precarious issue. However when there are no binding government standards in place how can the governing body even intervene? Recall Boeing being allow the freedom to self regulate, it became a culture. This is nothing short of a recipe for disaster.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately this is 100% true.

      “… the ranks of our leaders, civil service and electorate…” in Cayman are like a bunch of children with seemingly never ending supply of money. This is beyond simple incompetence, this is tragically dismal, even criminal. Gross incompetence, criminal negligence, willful disregard…

      But even Rome fell. The laws of nature would eventually prevail leaving Cayman residents with a broken washboard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thw project has taken so long that the original team has moved on or retired.

  7. Corruption is endemic says:

    So, we will end up relying on Dart to do the right thing… what has ever gone wrong with that?

  8. Anonymous says:

    yawn..just get it done…where is the legislation for dumping trash in a big pile for 50 years???????

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is not WTE this is WTF!

  10. Anonymous says:

    No surprise! CIG is known for half-assed processes; or having to do most things two, three times before getting them right (or close).

    If all T’s were crossed and all I’s dotted in this project, that would be a surprise!

    Clear evidence of Morons in Charge!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    The same applies to other projects/industries.

    There is no legislative framework, no Radiation Safety Guidance to support the Cayman City Cancer Center and other businesses that use radiation.
    Who are the radiation safety officer(s) in Cayman hospitals?
    Is anyone in Cayman aware of The 2014 “Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources: International Basic Safety Standards (IAEA* Safety Standards Series No. GSR Part 3),” which includes significant changes on non-medical human imaging.
    Or about a Safety Guide “Radiation Safety of X-ray Generators and Radiation Sources Used for Inspection Purposes and for Non-Medical Imaging (DS471)?
    *International Atomic Energy Agency

    Businesses that use radiation in Cayman.
    ✅Hospitals, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, radiologies.
    ✅Security Screening at Ports, Airports and Other Checkpoints
    ✅ X-ray inspection systems for cargo containers which include high-energy X-rays (usually a linear accelerator)

    Does CIG even employ radiation safety professionals?

    🇧🇲 Bermuda Radiation Act was legislated in 1972.
    Bermuda has Guidelines for radioactive equipment.

    Where does 🇰🇾Cayman stand on the Radiation safety?

    Where does it stand on the hazardous medical waste disposal regulations?

    It’s been 6 SIX years!!
    “…the DEH has [antiquated] 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.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Submit an FOI jointly to the Ministry of Health and find out what happened to the old x-ray equipment from the GT hospital.

    • Anonymous says:

      Basically 2018 DOH response:
      we must monitor operation of incinerators but don’t know what exactly we should be monitoring and to which standards, besides we have no equipment to so ….maybe in the foreseeable future we would do that” THIS IS CRIMINAL.

      What would DOH say today?

  12. anon says:

    The project needs to be cancelled fast. The faster it can be cancelled the faster Cayman can get on the right path – the less toxic one!!!!! Meanwhile government needs to step up and do this stuff (recycling, export of waste). Less talk, more action.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CNS
    I’m reposting this comment.

    Where’s the Analysis of the Economic and
    Environmental Viability of the Waste-to-Energy project?

    🚮Cayman doesn’t have solid waste management legislation.
    🛑Clean Air Act and Standards for Waste Management don’t exist.
    🛑There’re no National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
    🛑There’re no WtE Performance Standards
    🛑There’re no Waste Incineration Rules
    🛑There’s no local expertise to built and run WtE Plant, to monitor its emissions and enforce non-existent rules and regulations
    🛑There’s no equipment to monitor emissions and no qualified personnel to use the non-existent equipment.
    How in the world the WtE project was approved❓
    It would require an army of highly trained and experienced expats to build and run WtE Plant.
    Cancer rates in Grand Cayman are frightening already.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The public needs to take note that the “Section 5: Potential Environmental Effects” runs from page 37 to 121, almost the entire Terms of Reference paper:


    5.1 Marine Ecology pgs 37-44
    5.1 Terrestrial Ecology pgs 46-52
    5.3 Hydrology (including flood risk) and hydrogeology pgs 54-67
    5.4 Land quality (geo-environmental and geotechnical effects) pgs 74-82
    5.5 Landcape and Visual pgs 85-92
    5.6 Air quality and Greenhouse gas emissions pgs 95-102
    5.7 Noise and Vibration pgs 102-107
    5.8 Traffic and Transport pgs 112-118
    5.9 Socio-economics pgs 119-121

    WTE is not a responsible choice in 2024.

    • Anonymous says:

      And open air dumping and ignoring what’s happening there now is a better solution!?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, believe it or not, the uncombusted poisonous elements are less concentrated in current solid form in the pile. Better if this pile was in another poor neighbouring country with the real estate and appetite to take it – there are lots.

    • Anonymous says:

      This Terms of Reference was authored in 2021…we might reasonably ask what have our governments then and since been doing?

    • Anonymous says:

      While I appreciate concerns around this specific facility and use-case, it’s important to recognize that these categories (and the depth of consideration) are largely going to be reviewed in nearly any EIA (which is the point). Fewer categories or a more shallow consideration therein would really just imply a poorly scoped assessment.

      • Anonymous says:

        There’s very little substance in those pages. Like most of Cayman’s half-assed TOR’s, more of a regurgitated itemised list of existing laws, relevant eco zones, maps, and inadequate bureaucratic filler to pad it into a thicker document.

    • Anonymous says:

      It won’t be operational in 2024 so nothing for you to worry about.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, and what is? A Bodden Town landfill?

  15. Anonymous says:

    It seems common sense that the government would create legislation to hold this private operation to account. But then the key paragraph in this article comes up and it tells you all you need to know as to why this whole thing has stalled indefinitely.

    “legislation ought to be promulgated which will govern air quality emissions from the Energy Recovery Facility as well as the water quality and other required monitoring which will come forward under the Environmental Management Plan (EMP). In addition, the legislation could extend to existing and/or future emissions from other sources e.g. CUC or other industrial emissions”

    And there is the crux of it. CUC don’t want to be subject to regulation so their government bought and paid for stops progress on the dump. Follow the money.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Not unrelated: the Elections Law does not prohibit convicted criminals, school-leavers, and career grifters from running for office to literally become the law makers we rely upon to note and fill these holes.

  17. Anonymous says:

    put it up bodden town in deh back yard! lol


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