Much has been done to progress the remediation of the Georgetown Landfill site. While there’s still work to be done, great strides have been made to ‘cap’ the unsightly mountain of trash that stood 100 feet above sea level.
Remediation of the landfill is a complex process. It includes covering – or capping – the mound of waste, managing the landfill gas generated within the waste, controlling storm water run-off, and environmental monitoring of air, surface and groundwater quality.
The North Mound has now been covered and filled to promote grass and shrubbery growth. To get to this stage, we have covered the trash with a layer of fill material similar to marl, then a layer of manmade, low-permeability geosynthetic material. This has been covered with more fill, a final layer of topsoil and a 100% biodegradable mesh blanket is placed on top to prevent soil erosion during intense rainfall, while allowing seed growth to come through.
Around 30% of the remediated site has currently been seeded and watered. The remainder of the site will be seeded now that the rainy season has commenced to conserve resources and avoid the need for unnecessary artificial watering.
To manage the gasses produced as the trash breaks down, a network of collection wells and pipes has been installed. In the future the collected landfill gas may be utilized through internal combustion engines and generators to produce green electricity or the gas could be utilized through the ReGen Energy Recovery Facility.
At present, the gasses generated are being combusted through five temporary passive flare stacks. This facilitates the complete and safe combustion of odorous and harmful greenhouse gases, including methane. The enclosed flares ensure flames are not visible and gas extraction is continuously monitored to ensure safe combustion.
Research is currently being done to determine if the landfill gas can be used in the interim to generate power through mobile gas engines to support the construction phase of the ReGen project.
The landfill remediation work to date has brought significant benefits to the local environment around this area of the site. Leachate has been reduced as rainfall now runs off and doesn’t permeate through the trash. As the trash has been covered, pests including wild dogs, rats and flies are no longer attracted to this area in search of food or breeding grounds.
Landfill capping and gas management supports a huge reduction in odour and significantly improves the site’s aesthetic for locals and tourists.
While phase one of the remediation is almost complete, we have a long way to go until the ReGen facility is up and running. This means that continuation of landfill is inevitable for the interim period.
Further waste reduction needed
To ensure that we don’t end up with a second Mount Trashmore and the issues it would generate, it is critical that the amount of waste that goes into general trash bins is reduced. Reducing what we throw away is the only way we can assist DEH to safely manage and operate the landfill to agreed standards, and protect the limited remaining capacity.
To this end, we ask you to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can. Avoid purchasing goods with excess packaging, use reusable water bottles and compost your food and yard waste at home where possible.
The collaborating teams at Dart and CIG can only achieve so much – we need you to support us to achieve a cleaner, greener Cayman, together.