Priest calls on Minister Meyers to provide answers on Dump

Leader of the OSPP Lenny Priest

PHILIPSBURG – Recommendations that the intended Waste-to-Energy plant be built in the Cay Bay area to allow easier transfer of the electricity produced by the plant to the grid of NV GEBE, that the communities in Philipsburg be educated on actual conditions of the dump and that an escape plan be introduced in the event of a disaster, have been put forward to VROMI Minister Angel Meyers by the One St. Maarten People Party (OSPP).

The OSPP also proposed town hall meetings outlining the various solutions that are being tabled.

Leader of the OSPP Lenny Priest said he learnt from media reports that date back to May 2016, Minister Meyers visited a Renewable Energy Facility in West Palm Beach and a Waste-to-Energy Plant in New York, with the intention of constructing a Waste-to-Energy plant.

Unconfirmed reports have given the site for this proposed plant as Pond Island. Priest noted that the report also mentioned the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the New York Company was in the works and posed several questions to Minister Meyers.

“Can you inform the general public how far you have reached in finalizing the memorandum of understanding with the New York Company, as you have indicated it would take three years before the plant is up and running? What are your immediate plans for the dump at this moment? In case of an explosion what remedies are in place? Do you have any ideas what kinds of contaminants we are to be exposed to? What exit and evacuation plans are in place for the community especially those people living in the area? What will happen to the waste that’s buried all those years since it would remain a hazard? Where will this new facility be built? Do you agree that a new temporary location has to be identified, set up properly and manage to facilitate the waste to energy plant when it is built?” Priest questioned while calling on the Minister to keep the public informed.

He chastised the Minister for indicating in press releases that an MOU is being considered without informing the people of what will happen in the interim, dubbing this as irresponsible. According to Priest, the residents and land owners of Cay Bay must also be informed and educated as to what to expect in their community, and not be made to feel that the government is moving a waiting time bomb from Philipsburg to their area.

“We have identified three parcels of land in Cay Bay in close proximity of NV GEBE where the landfill could be moved in that area to be properly managed and to meet all international environmental rules and regulations. We also recommend that the Waste-to-Energy plant should be built in that area, which makes it much easier for the electricity produced by the plant to be transferred to the grid of NV GEBE. The same goes for the establishment of a solar panel park in the same vicinity to provide energy that is more environmental friendly. We understand that the emission produced by the Waste-to-Energy plant will be less than the emission currently coming from NV GEBE at the moment, and would therefore cause no harm to the residents of Cay Bay,” Priest explained.

“It is of utmost importance that we deal with the situation of the dump post haste. This site is a bomb waiting to explode at any time and no one can predict when, including having no preventative measures and escape plan in place. If and when this happens, can anyone imagine what this will mean for the people in the area? What emergency strategies are in place? How will this be handled? This would be a major catastrophe in the history of St. Maarten that would be beyond our imagination. The impact of it and the after effect we would not be able to measure. This matter is one of St. Maarten’s most serious issue, and requires the government attention now more than ever,” Priest stated in his most recent letter to Minister Meyers.