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Landfill Manager Criticised After Latest Fire

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE Free National Movement has condemned the Christie administration’s proclamation that remediation is in place at the New Providence landfill, saying it is “now patently clear” that Renew Bahamas is incapable of managing the fire-plagued property.

The party said the “epic failure” by Renew Bahamas should be viewed as a clear indication that the Progressive Liberal Party has wasted the “hard earned monies” of the Bahamian people.

Last night, Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett released a statement that said officials from his ministry are holding discussions with Renew Bahamas and police “to assess the present security regime at the landfill to ensure its maximum impact.”

“While Renew is responsible for providing security, the government is assessing the adequacy of the security measures in place in light of the recent fires and the suspicion of arson,” he said. “Security at the site is critical and is not a small task as the site is over 100-acres within a 300-acre plot of land. I have impressed upon all stakeholders that there must be a concerted effort to ensure that resolution be brought to this situation as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

He also said Renew Bahamas has made progress since it was contracted in 2014 to remediate the landfill, which was expected to reduce fires.

Another massive fire erupted at the site on Sunday night, the third in about three weeks.

“Renew Bahamas had not delivered and thus they have further exposed the government’s lack of commitment to the promotion of health and safety in our communities. More clearly, it demonstrates to the people that environmental and health issues are not given priority by this government,” the FNM said.

“The FNM and the Bahamian people continue to be concerned about the ability or lack thereof, of this company. Consequently, we demand that the government explains how this company was selected.

“Additionally, they should also explain how a contract was given without a request for proposal (RFP) or public tendering. The government is yet to disclose who are the principle owners and shareholders in the company, yet they were given a lucrative contract by the government. What does the government have to hide from the Bahamian people in this deal?”

The FNM said since Renew Bahamas was contracted, fires have “gotten worse with no end in sight.”

When contacted by The Tribune on the matter, Renew Bahamas CEO Gerhard Beukes and Chief Commercial Officer Michael Cox called the criticism “unfair.”

They said the record would show that the company has worked tirelessly to curtail recurrent fires.

They added that the nature of the latest fire has led officials at the landfill to consider that recent blazes are more to do with materials coming in to the site, rather than materials already on the site.

According to Mr Beukes and Mr Cox, there are already a series of procedures being carried out at the site to ensure that flammable materials are handled in a manner that does not cause new fires.

The treatment of flammable materials being introduced to the site was something that Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller yesterday took issue with, suggesting that the efforts being carried out by Renew were being limited by “bad and unrealistic habits” that predates the company.

According to Mr Miller, the source of many of the recent fires at the New Providence landfill site appears to be predicated on the burning of tyres, plastics and a number of other combustible materials dumped at the site.

He told The Tribune that during his most recent visit to the landfill he saw loads of tyres being dumped, while officials worked to extinguish a blaze.

“This has got to stop,” the Tall Pines MP said, as he described his constituents’ complaints about the recurrent fires.

“For God’s sake, the people, my people, all people deserve better than this nonsense. It must stop. I mean look - it is not only unhealthy, it isn’t fair to the residents that have to deal with this on a day to day basis.”

The Tribune understands that the presence of flammable materials at the site has become a contentious issue between Renew Bahamas and the Department of Environmental Health Services, the government department with the most immediate oversight of the landfill.

Sources at the DEHS have confirmed that Renew Bahamas has made a point to ask that flammable materials be removed from waste-loads prior to loads being offloaded at the dump, an issue the source said has been met with opposition because of the amount of money it could cost the department.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 5 months ago

Perry Christie and Brave Davis continue to profit handsomely from their relationship with Renew Bahamas, all the while many Bahamians are living in absolute misery as a result of the serious life threatening health issues caused by the toxic smoke produced by the dump fires. Christie and Davis know no shame!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 5 months ago

I am told by one well respected and distinguished medical doctor with practice privileges at PMH that the dump fires have already caused the premature deaths of many many Bahamians, numbering in the hundreds!

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 5 months ago

"They added that the nature of the latest fire has led officials at the landfill to consider that recent blazes are more to do with materials coming in to the site, rather than materials already on the site. According to Mr Beukes and Mr Cox, there are already a series of procedures being carried out at the site to ensure that flammable materials are handled in a manner that does not cause new fires."

First, what is Ken Dorsett doing? Why would he release a statement about security and then drag in the police and talk about how hard it is to secure the site when Renew officials have finally admitted that these fires are likely due to combustion? Is he trying to deceive the public? Does he or any of his companies have shares in Renew Bahamas? Because this is excellent cloaking from someone who should be Chief of Tough Questions right now.

This company was given an opportunity to examine the situation at the dump "before" they were handed that contract on a silver platter. The sole purpose of that exercise was a comprehensive remediation plan that would address security, the size of the dump, materials at the site, materials coming on to the site and spontaneous combustion. All the things they're complaining about now.

Further, Renew is not even paying for the work at the dump! the government is, they are simply harvesting the resource, exporting it and earning a hefty profit. What a sweet deal! It looks like they never had an objective to stop the fires. All they saw was Junkamoney

My belief is Renew has no idea how to stop the fires, it really doesn't appear that they had any strategy, certainly not to be complaining about materials coming into the dump and security at this late stage.

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Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

I believe that you are so right. Renew doesn't seem to have a clue about how to manage a dump or how to rectify any historical problems.

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242gal 2 years, 5 months ago

While I applaud Dorsett for making any statement I condemn this watery attempt to deflect from the actual problem - I mean, do they have to take courses in Minister and MP school to learn how to smokescreen so well?

Arson my arse. Blame the phantom arsonist. Who sets a dump on fire??

The issue is that the landfill is broken. The government has continued to ignore public complaints, squandered millions of dollars given by the IDB to fix the problem and served its citizens on a platter to roast in toxic fumes.

What's it going to take to keep people from rising up? Thinking The Honorable Dorsett better come up with a solution and fast before he has to find out.

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Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

Has Renew or the PLP/FNM even analyzed the cost of fixing this problem once and for all? We have dealt with this for many, many years and I have never heard that we have gotten professionals in and they estimate that it will be between $?? million and $?? million, and will take between ??months and ??years, to completely fix this problem. Why don't we start at that point and then make informed decisions? I mean if this could all be fixed in 18months and cost the government $25 million, then I vote for full rectification and not this piece, piece, dump on fire again, for the next 10 years bullshit! I have driven past many, many old dumps in the U.S. that have been converted to green hilly landscapes. There must be dozens of companies across Canada, the U.S. and Europe that have dealt with this same problem in areas that slowly became residential over the years and didn't have proper separation of materials, and combustable materials scattered throughout the landfill, during the life of the landfill.

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Tarzan 2 years, 5 months ago

What kind of country lets contracts like this with no transparency and no accountability. Someone's "grandmother" owns the entity charged with managing a technically challenging facility; the cash is all delivered to the politically connected; and, NO ONE does anything when the facility poses serial public health challenges? One more matter for the P.M. to bloviate about in Parliament along with empty promises to table all documentation as soon as some foreign watchdog, hired by the thieves who set up the deal in the first place, delivers a report which NEVER shows up. When will this society realize that it is falling apart at the seams? It is hard to believe that even the thieves in charge don't realize that they are killing the goose that is laying, for them at least, the golden eggs.

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Economist 2 years, 5 months ago

We are still waiting for the government to release the details of the contract with Renew.

We don't know who they are or what experience they have to run a landfill.

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Baha10 2 years, 5 months ago

This age old catastrophe should not be viewed as a political issue, as both Parties are to blame for failing to address post Independence. Further, I would not blame Renew, as the fires are most likely being set intentionally by paid operatives with self interest in mind. However, reality is such that we are ALL BEING POISONED due to poor air quality. It follows that 70% of the Bahamian population is trapped on this Island facing the grim options of either immediate death by being shot or slow drawn out death due to carcinogenic sickness. To this end, it is hard to imagine anyone intentionally wanting to kill its own people, including themselves, hence why I say this should not be regarded as a political issue, as crime and air quality affect us all and require us to come together as a Nation to support Renew in trying to resolve the issue once and for all.

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cmiller 2 years, 5 months ago

I agree, Bana 10. The dump, crime, and poverty should not become political because every government will have to battle with these issues, and probably fail to fix them, so politicians are not helping when they start the blame game for these national issues.

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Economist 2 years, 5 months ago

Agreed, both parties have had ample time to fix the problem. There were fires, on and off, the entire time the FNM HAS EVER been in power. I can certainly remember fires over the last twenty years.

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 5 months ago

If Brave's company Renew was here to manage a landfill there would be no more fires.

Obviously Brave's company is not here to manage anything. It is simply here to collect.

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Chucky 2 years, 5 months ago

Renew Bahamas gets a per ton rate for garbage entering the landfill, and the lions share of revenue from proceeds of recycled garbage.

There never was an intent for them to "manage" the landfill with the environment in mind.

There is a clear conflict of interest present: 1) when you're paid "x" per ton to receive garbage, you are inclined to deal with it a cheaply as possible. 2) when you share in the proceeds of recycled materials , you are inclined to "cherry pick" the waste for the easy money.
3) Most importantly, when you are charged with looking out for the environment while managing a landfill, you must aim for best practices which are not the cheapest. Garbage should be compacted, which reduces volume by 40%, yet when you are not the one paying for the next "cell" you don't care how quick you fill it up, and therefore why compact at your cost......Renew Bahamas. 4) When you are not held to any standard of air quality, why cover the garbage entirely on a daily basis, it doesn't help you if this prevents fires, and obviously it costs you more in cover material. 5) When you are not charged with protecting the ground water, why would you care about an overflowing cell, which allows leachate to run off the sides and not be collected......Renew Bahamas...... So many things wrong in the operation, it is as though they don't have a clue about how to manage a landfill. However, we know that they do know what theyre doing, but they, however are not being paid to do the right thing, they are being paid to capitalize on the who scenario regardless of health or environment......,

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Emac 2 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, but the FNM cannot condemn any administration about anything in regards to this vexing dump problem. They were once the government, the same thing happened under their watch. Both governments have played with peoples' lives by not fixing this problem. Residents in the area are becoming ill from this situation for God's sake! Is that not enough to make those responsible to at least try to alleviate this problem? There is a special place in "hell" for all those officials who stood by idly and let this thing escalated into what it is today!

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 5 months ago

Please ....... someone tell me where else in the world have these white fellas at "Renew" have competently managed a dump/landfill similar to our Harold Road facility ...... I will eat my own shoe if one can be legally identified on this planet .......... the dump is worse than before 2012

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Chucky 2 years, 5 months ago

One of them Renew Guys, Andy Wilson, was responsible for a landfill in Whitby , Ontario , Canada.

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