Wever: A complete system for waste management needed | THE DAILY HERALD

VROMI Minister Christopher Wever (standing) addressing MPs on Friday, while members of his delegation look on.


PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Christopher Wever said on Friday a complete system for waste management is needed for St. Maarten.

  Wever also intends to invite EnviroGreen and other companies to further the discussions on waste-to-energy for St. Maarten.

  He made the statements during the continuation of a parliamentary meeting on the dump on Friday, in response to a question on the matter. Wever said his long-term vision for the dump is that it needs to be remediated, capped and closed, in a responsible manner in accordance with professional best practices.

  “While the end objective is to close the dump, I acknowledge there may always be a need for some landfilling of certain waste remains, albeit in significantly less quantity. However, the largest parts of the landfills can be closed, with a very small remaining operational face, if this may be needed,” Wever told MPs.

 Wever said the World Bank had commissioned AIM Texas Trading LLC to conduct a study and provide recommendations for a sustainable waste management system for Sint Maarten, and for the remediation and closure of the current garbage and debris dumpsites. The study, which also looks at the possibilities for closure of the dump, will be informative for final decision making on this matter.

  The study is ongoing and not yet complete. It entails a broad scope related to a comprehensive improvement of the entire waste management cycle for Sint Maarten. In the week of September 16, the firm was present on the island and presented preliminary results for consultation to the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB), VROMI and the Council of Ministers (COM) to guide the further works of the consulting firm.

  At these consultations, a set of proposals for so-called quick-win actions were presented for consideration. It is anticipated that more specific results will be presented in December, related to the remediation and improved management of the landfill, as well as the long-term strategy for a sustainable waste management.

  Based on the preliminary results of the study presented thus far, and the prospect of funding of some important components of this strategy through the Recovery Trust Fund, Wever is inclined to await the outcome of the study to make final decisions about the long-term strategy about waste management. “What I can mention is that I believe we need to implement a complete system for waste management, which considers all the necessary building blocks, including legislation, organization, education and infrastructure. Furthermore, such a system should strongly consider means to encourage waste reduction, all means of disposal of the various waste streams that Sint Maarten generates, which can, and more than likely will also include a component of a waste-to-energy facility.”

  In responding to the question as to what (extra) cost is being incurred with government’s in-house management of the landfill, Wever said, the extra costs being incurred with the in-house management of the landfill cannot be simply expressed. “What we can say is that under the current in-house management, the costs are less than these would be if the dumpsites were to be managed by outsourced contract.”

  He explained that the management of the so-called Irma dumpsite has always been under the direct management of VROMI, therefore there is no comparison of management cost that can be made. The cost that was being paid in the former contract for the management of the main landfill was NAf. 183,000 per month. “However, as I have previously mentioned on the floor of Parliament, the performance of the contractor was grossly deficient in many respects, as a result of which there were frequent fires on the landfill.

  In January 2019, VROMI published a Terms of Reference for a significantly improved management of the main landfill, which was to be contracted for March 1, 2019. However, the minimum bid based on the public tender was for an amount of NAf. 310,000 per month for management of the main landfill, with the highest bid more than doubling that amount.”

  VROMI is currently managing both landfills for an amount of approximately NAf. 360,000 per month, while the management of the Irma landfill is the most resource intensive landfill at the moment, due to the ongoing fire suppression works required.

While the cost related to the works cannot be fully compared, as VROMI does not carry out all the requirements as were published in the Terms of Reference, and the management cost of VROMI does not include profit and risk components, it should be noted that the actual monthly costs for the management do vary on a month-to- month basis. “However, it is safe to conclude that the cost involved is less expensive, and thus far the results have been reasonably positive.”

  As it relates to the recent court verdict regarding suppressing landfill fires, Wever said the essence of the verdict of the court is that government needs to have implemented the Fire Suppression Plan by May 1, 2020, or suffer a penalty of NAf. 10.000 per day, to a maximum of NAf. 10 million, to the benefit of Nature Foundation of Sint Maarten.

  On September 6, government appealed to the verdict of the court injunction. The verdict is executable forehand. In addition to the appeal of the verdict, Wever said government will employ all means, in consultation with the World Bank, to execute the verdict of the court within the stipulated timeline. At present, a Terms of Reference for the tender of the fire suppression activities has been launched, and is pending the completion of an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Management Plan, which will be incorporated.

  The status of the investigation into activities surrounding the management of the dump is unknown, but presumed to be still ongoing. “I can inform you that in December of 2018, a search warrant was executed at the offices of VROMI, as well as at other locations, and that various persons were called in for questioning. I am currently not aware of the outcome of such activities related to the investigation, as this has not been made known by the Office of the Prosecutor as yet.”

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/91306-wever-a-complete-system-for-waste-management-needed