NOTE: *** Video attached to this letter is to illustrate that I have been talking about the dump as far as 2016. ***
Or should one ask: why is a proper waste management solution essential?
Over the years St. Maarten has seen an increase in its population, and seen its waste double as well.
The ever-increasing landfill has affected the lives of people residing on the island, especially those individuals/ families who live on the landfill, and reside in nearby neighbourhoods like Sucker Garden, Fort Willem, Over the Pond, Madame Estate, just to name a few.
By living in close proximity to the landfill, these individuals/ families are prone to diseases, methane gases, soil and air pollution, and general health risks that come along with years of exposure. Therefore, it is imperative that the St. Maarten government put a proper waste management solution in place to combat the risks it is now facing of having an unregulated exposed landfill in the middle of its business district.
While it is all well and good, the various political parties amplify the waste management debate during election time. What I am failing to hear from all the political parties is the honesty in explaining to the population, that for the implementation of a suitable waste management solution to be established, it will need the entire island (French & Dutch side), to make it a reality.
The St. Maarten Government will need to start campaigning on the following 5 R’s:
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle, amongst its populace.
The 5 R’s are vital to any society busy championing waste management. The population needs to understand that waste management is not just a thing that happens, it is a way of life for the sustainability of a nation.
The Government will need to evaluate a way of measuring the waste management’s progress, from conception to completion and the best way to measure such progress is by using the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time-related) metric. For instance, the government can set a time-related objective (i.e., a 5-year-plan), where the objective would be to educate its populace when it comes to the importance of recycling, for example the sorting of household waste (paper, glass, carton, food) and the benefits; Or the proper way to dispose of different types of waste such as industrial to non-industrial (batteries, plastics, hazardous, medical, green waste).
Studies carried out accentuate the influence that education has on the young generation when it comes to having respect for the environment, and its resources. I genuinely believe if the educational criteria is formulated appropriately, it can have a genuine impact on the attitudes, and behaviours of the local community, and visitors to the island.
Before this Government can move forward with the tabled waste-to-energy solution, I fundamentally believe that they will need to perform another evaluation, confirming if what is currently being proposed as a solution is a viable option for St. Maarten, now and in the long-term.
I genuinely believe that an in-depth feasibility study will need to be carried out on the soil, and air from in and around the landfill, and sent away for analysis to determine the extent of pollution, and what environmental effect that is having on the waters of the Salt Pond and its surrounding areas of Sucker Garden, Fort Willem, Over the Pond, Madame Estate and as far as Cay Hill, Cole Bay and Simpson Bay.
Presently, the Government has no metrics, that I know of, in place to measure the current state of its landfill.
Video from Gromyko Wilson back in November 25, 2016
Bearing that in mind, I have the following questions:
- By having no metrics to measure against, how can the St. Maarten government be certain that the proposed solution is the right one for the island?
- Once the landfill has been incinerated, is our 16-square-foot island able to produce enough garbage on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis for the opted solution?
- What will the cost be to the taxpayers/ government, if the proposed waste management solution costs more to maintain than it produces (given the question posed in point 2)?
- How is the government planning to store the excess energy after it is generated?
- How is the government planning to distribute the produced energy? Will this be in collaboration with GEBE?
- What other waste management solutions have been tabled as an option for the island?
- Will the waste management solution be a collaborative undertaking between the French and Dutch sides (given the question posed in point 2)?
- What are the risks of the proposed waste management solution?
- What are the benefits of the proposed waste management solution?
- What will the yearly running costs be to the government if it opts in for the proposed waste management solution?
These are just some simple questions that come to mind, but the real question is: Has the Government put a Steering Committee in place with various key stakeholder individuals from different districts in the community that can challenge the proposed waste management solution? Or was the waste management solution handled in the same manner as how the past and current VROMI Minister handled the garbage collection bid?
In conclusion, I am in favour of having a proper waste management solution in place for the island. Not only from the dump standpoint, which we can all agree is an eyesore, but from a health and environmental perspective.
While it may not be apparent, it is you who can pave the way towards a better world and healthier environment. That is why we should be mindful of sustainability and make actionable efforts to manage and treat waste.
I conclude by reminding the community of St. Maarten, “that it takes a village to make this happen and not just one or certain groups of individuals.”
USP candidate in the upcoming election for Member of Parliament.
Video from Gromyko Wilson back in December 10, 2017
Second dump site on fire….. more smoke…. more money before the power change !!!!
Video from Gromyko Wilson back in May 17, 2018.
Dump is not on Fire but people who illegally burning cables for copper.