General Manager of the Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC) Alphonso Bridgewater addressed the Rotary Club of Liamuiga recently on the state of waste disposal in St. Kitts. He was joined by members of his management team namely Ms. Ghanja O’Flaherty, Operations Engineer and Mr. Wilmon McCall, Operations Manager. During the club’s breakfast meeting at the St. Kitts Marriott Club House in Frigate Bay, Mr. Bridgewater addressed at length the current challenges affecting the work of the Solid Waste Management Corporation, including the need for another engineered cell at the Sanitary Landfill in order to meet the increasing demands for garbage disposal on the island. “We don’t have a sanitary engineered cell any longer but we had to continue disposing of the waste to the more eastern side (of the landfill). We have gone back to disposing waste the ways we used to do it 50 years ago but it’s much better. It’s not sanitary engineered; the preference we have is to move to a sanitary engineered cell,” Mr. Bridgewater explained. He stressed that with the hurricane season approaching, and with space for garbage disposal becoming crammed, the need for a new engineered sanitary cell is becoming more important.
Another subject that Mr. Bridgewater stressed that is important to the discussion on the future of waste disposal on St. Kitts is waste to energy. He pointed out that while this may be a good solution to the current problem, there are several factors that will impact the decision making process. One is the possibility of geothermal energy being chosen over waste to energy. “I get the impression that the electricity department, the ministry with responsibility for power and all other persons concerned have a preference for geothermal and with good reason. The electrical people love it because (the electricity has) a more steady flow and things of that nature. What they are not telling us is how long it’s going to take and how much capital (to invest) before you get it,” Mr. Bridgewater said. Another is the cost, as while developers come with the intention to invest, the government would want to tread carefully to ensure it is not burdened financially with such a project. Most importantly, Mr. Bridgewater appealed to the Rotary Club to partner with the SWMC in helping it fulfill its mandate.
Meanwhile, in a response to a question from a member of the Rotary Club on the plan for disposal of derelict vehicles, especially in light of the increase in the importation of automobiles on the island, Ms. O’Flaherty pointed out that a proposal from the SWMC is being perused. She outlined the three aspects of the proposal: divert environmental levy paid on importation of older vehicles towards disposing these said vehicles when they would have reached their natural life; increase the environmental levy and have this included in the current vehicular tax or keeping track of vehicles until the end of their natural life and then have these disposed afterwards. Ms. O’Flaherty stressed however the need for persons to consider how items such as vehicles will be disposed of when they are purchasing them, which she noted could assist in proper disposal when they have been fully used.
On another note, Mr. Bridgewater addressed the SWMC’s handling of waste from the cruise ships, the challenges they faced initially and that waste from ships are treated as hazardous waste. It’s also a major source of income for the SWMC, he disclosed. Mr. Bridgewater also noted that the disposal of waste oil remains a challenge and appealed to the Rotary Club for any assistance that can be offered in this regard. The SWMC General Manager also focused his presentation on the improvements the SWMC has made to the state of waste disposal on the island, compared to the years prior to its establishment. He was keen to point out that prior to the SWMC’s establishment, garbage was dumped on Ponds Pasture with no proper management of how this was done.
In the meantime, the SWMC top man, urged members of the Rotary Club and by extension the public, to plan for the waste they generate when planning a function. At the end of the breakfast meeting, all three, including the SWMC Communications Specialist Andre Huie, received tokens of appreciation from the Rotary Club of Liamuiga.