Improvements agreed with BK for Haags Bosch landfill – ministry

The Ministry of Local Government today said that it has agreed on a series of improvements with the contractor for the Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill (HBSL), BK International Inc.

The statement by the ministry comes amid strenuous concerns voiced by residents of Republic Park and Eccles on June 17, 2013 at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing about the offensive odour from the landfill and the reduction of the buffer zone between the East Bank Demerara landfill and the nearest community. The reduction of the buffer zone is to facilitate a new housing scheme.

Observers say the statement may be meant as comfort to prospective property owners in the housing scheme that will be situated on the part of the buffer zone that is to be taken up. Properties in this area will be even closer to the landfill than the current householders. Concerns therefore over the problems at the landfill could badly affect the new housing scheme.

“… the Ministry has recognized the challenges at the landfill site and is meeting with the Contractor continuously to find solutions and to ensure that the Contractor complies with the environmental and social requirements. In this regard also, the contractor and the Ministry have agreed on major areas of operation improvements to move the project forward. These include a revised list of equipment, revised list of personnel and performance indicators.”

It provided no further details on the improvements agreed with BK.

The June 17 meeting was a rescheduled forum to update the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the landfill on two matters. These were the reduction of the buffer zone and the possibility and required steps for accepting hazardous and medical waste at the sanitary landfill.

Exp Services Inc was the consultant which prepared the update.

The ministry said that approximately 50 persons attended this consultation with representation from the following: residents from Republic Park and Eccles neighbourhood, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) from the East Bank and East Coast, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Contractor/Operator BK International Inc.

There were only seven or eight resident at the meeting out of the 50 persons that the ministry referred to. Stabroek News was present at the meeting.

The ministry statement said that the consultant’s findings were highlighted and can be summarised as follows: “the HBSL can perform satisfactorily with the reduced buffer zone, provided that it is operated in an environmentally sound manner with commensurate increases in the frequency and scope of monitoring.  A number of specific items need to be implemented before a hazardous waste cell is implemented.”

The statement added that the residents were “expressively vocal” on the objectionable odours  from the landfill and the plan to have hazardous and healthcare waste placed in a special cell at the landfill.

The ministry added that the residents argued that the landfill is not adequately managed and that this should change if waste is to be accepted at this site.

The statement said that the ministry advised that efforts are being made to lower the amount of waste going to the landfill.

“The Government through the Ministry is working on a recycling programme and has invited and received expression of interests from recyclers to start a massive recycling programme that would see a significant volume of waste being used as inputs in the recycling operations”, the ministry statement said today.

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