Rape Of A National Treasure Continues At Greenland Dump


Photo: Typical Overnight Landslip In Greenland Dump Area

Let’s Re-Name The Project – The Liar Liz Thompson Dump

Construction work has shifted into high gear at the site of the Greenland Dump in the Scotland National Park area. I haven’t been up there for a few months, but according to some friends and a CBC article the place is looking more like the surface of the moon than the paradise it once was.

For those unfamiliar with the issue, the area where the government is building the new dump is one of the most unstable areas on the island and has been the scene of many massive land slips throughout recorded Barbados history. Roads in the area are under constant repair as the unstable ground shifts and tears road surfaces apart – often overnight. Vertical sand fingers poke through the area and are ready to wick away chemicals and garbage leachate into the water table and the sea.

Experts Say There Is No Worse Location For A Barbados Dump

Independent experts like University of Alberta professor Hans Machel (and even the silenced government experts) state that they can’t think of a worse place to put a garbage dump on the island. (See Greenland Fiasco Dooms Barbados – Professor Machel Names The Liars, Thieves & Incompetents)

Nonetheless, the Government of Barbados continues the Greenland Dump fiasco and refuses to consider other more modern waste disposal technologies such as vapourization. Nope, we’re going to dig a hole, pretend to line it with materials that are supposed to keep the foul liquids and chemicals from getting to the water table – then we’re going to fill it with garbage and cover it up. When the land shifts and slides underneath and tears the liner, it won’t be visible or repairable. Sooner rather than later, folks and wildlife downstream will get the message of an unfolding environmental disaster as their water turns into poison.

The Barbados Government has indemnified the contractors building this disaster, so the people of Barbados are unlikely to have any recourse when the inevitable happens. Don’t worry about the involved politicos… all those responsible will be counting money in their offshore bank accounts and sipping margaritas in Miami when the next landslip happens.

Our thanks to all the BFP readers who alerted us to the CBC article: R, K, J, A and I.

Greenland Landfill Re-started

Government is going ahead with plans to have the Greenland land fill fully operational by next year.

Mike Goddard says the site in St. Andrew is being transformed as construction continues.

Less than a year ago Greenland was like a paradise…lush green vegetation accentuated by two small lakes with water lilies,…..swimming ducks and all.

Today the landscape has been completely changed, to the point where it may not even be recognisable to those who have been there.

Bulldozers, excavators and other heavy earth moving equipment have taken over the site, tearing away the natural surroundings and leaving the bare ground exposed.

It’s all part of the retrofitting and completion of the new multi million dollar facility, which is to replace the Mangrove Pond landfill.

The first phase of the new Greenland plan to clear the site, is nearing its end, and management of the Sanitation Services Authority is advertising in the press for companies to construct a leachate and liquid waste treatment facility.

Leachate is the liquid formed when water soaks into and through a landfill, picking up a variety of suspended and dissolved materials from the waste.

Potential contractors have until April 16 to submit their bids but before this, and on March 29 to be exact, they will have the opportunity to visit Greenland for inspection and test hold digging.

The Greenland landfill is part of a 40 million dollar solid waste management programme and involves what is being termed the retrofitting of Greenland, the construction of a transfer station at Vaucluse St. Thomas to separate garbage, the establishment of a chemical waste storage facility and the setting up of a composting facility.

The project is being financed by the Inter-American Development Bank.

… read the original article at the CBC (link here)


Filed under Barbados, Environment

20 responses to “Rape Of A National Treasure Continues At Greenland Dump

  1. Rumplestilskin

    Barbados is full of caves. Look at the NHC site which is supposedly on a far sounder area than Greenland.

    At least this time they are doing test-hole digging

    Having said that, gosh knows what they will find there.

    Maybe they will hit oil or something, when they try to get to solid, uncratered rock 800 feet down.

  2. Rumplestilskin

    PS I mean when they try to get to solid uncratered rock and end up 800 feet down and still going.

  3. CaveMan

    Those caves are not available to garbage disposal,however.
    Those caves were created by, and are part of,
    the very underground water system we need to protect,
    so please find somewhere else to stash your garbage!

  4. Adrian Loveridge

    It strikes me, that we the voters, have not done a very good job with the current Goverment in getting across the strength of feeling AGAINST placing a second landfill at Greenland.
    While escorting a group of overseas visitors a few days ago at Farley Hill National Park, one guest asked, while admiring the stunning view, what it that down there.
    With strong winds blowing from East South East, I explained thats ‘our’ next garbage disposal site
    schedule to get its first deposits in September this year.

    The look of amazement from the group was overwhelming, and it left me with the feeling that despite all the attractions that Barbados offers, responsible tourists simply cannot understand how such a decision can be made.

    Of course, the policymakers may be just gambling that the wind always blows from the North East or they will be able to manage the offensive odours better than they currently do at Mangrove.

    Somehow we have to do a better job to keep the budding Parliamentarians focused on the 12 or so marginal seats and hope that there are 100-200 sufficiently responsible environmental voters willing to put their cross where it can make a difference.

  5. No - Name

    Perhaps the only thing that will stop this madness is an organised march(s) as were organised by the Grand Old Duke of York.

    The question is ….Who will take the lead?

  6. concerned

    The problem is the $3 billion that Sandy Lane will not spend until the Mangrove dump is closed.

  7. While it sounds like we can’t do anything to stop the developers, can’t we sue the government so we can put the freeze on the spending for the developers on this project? Surely the judical system can help decide if the political system is in alignment with the Bajans and the environment?


    Hey Sayonara

    Good to see you again.

    I wish we could believe in the judicial system. only trouble is the Chief Judge was a government member one day and Chief Judge the next week. Old drinking buddy of the Prime Minister and the PM has made statements to the effect that anyone who critisise the Chief Judge is in trouble. “If you trouble David Simmons, you trouble me.” (Arthur talking about outgoing MP Simmons who become Chief Judge)

    plus we have no environment laws so the courts make it up as they go.

    Now you can understand why the courts are looked at by most like they are another branch of the governing party.

  8. BFP

    Hey Sayonara

    Good to see you again.

    I wish we could believe in the judicial system. only trouble is the Chief Judge was a government member one day and Chief Judge the next week. Old drinking buddy of the Prime Minister and the PM has made statements to the effect that anyone who critisise the Chief Judge is in trouble. “If you trouble David Simmons, you trouble me.” (Arthur talking about outgoing MP Simmons who become Chief Judge)

    plus we have no environment laws so the courts make it up as they go.

    Now you can understand why the courts are looked at by most like they are another branch of the governing party.


  9. Has anyone considered pressuring the IDB? If their funding is frozen for an IDB audit, the work will stop — at least for a while, allowing more time to organize a local campaign. Just a thought…

  10. Rumplestilskin

    Actually, apart legislation and common law (case law), I believe (in my layman’s knowledge) that the Courts will take it that Barbados is bound by international conventions on issues such as the environment.

    Thus, there are three steps:

    – find whether there is an international convention addressing the disposal of resuse and protecting the environment

    – assess whether the Government, in placing the dump at Greenland has breached the convention, reasoning being either it is on an environmentally proteced site by nature or just due to the potential leachate and subsequent environmental impact, or both

    – if the assessment is in the affirmative i.e. that Government has breached the convention, then a case can be brought

    One may argue that our Canadian professor friend has done the research determining part two. Arguably his analysis as an expert justifies an assertion that the environmental impact as being adverse. However, it is still worth comparing his result to the stated convention if it indeed exists, to specifcally identify points of breach or whether the breach is general.

    Now only part one and part three need addressing.

    Checking to assess whether there is an International Convention.

    Bringing the case.

  11. akabozik

    Rumple is probably correct but is missing one piece.

    Money. Lots of Money.

  12. Rumplestilskin, the only international convention addressing waste (apart from subregional conventions in Central America and Africa) is the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, which (unless there are details missing here) would not apply. Even the the Ramsar Convention on protection of wetlands of international importance will not help here, since Greenland and Scotland National Park are not listed (Graeme Hall IS). Speaking as someone who’s tracked alot of landfill controversies in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) over the years, I’m afraid international conventions will be no help to opponents of Greenland. One might argue that some of the “soft law” international instruments might apply — Agenda 21, UNEP’s Cairo Guidelines, etc. — but these never hold up well in courts.

    And could you trust the local courts to “do the right thing” in any case? Not if even half of what I have read here at BFP is accurate!

    That’s why I suggested pressuring IDB. They do respond (eventually) to pressure on socio-environmental issues, and there are potential NGO allies in the States with experience in taking on IDB who might be willing to tackle it.

    A question hovering in the background throughout all this controversy is where a fill might be suitably relocated? As I understand it, the current site must close or risk collapse. And please don’t tell me let’s just incinerate it all (as some commentators keep positing). Incineration should only be considered when you think you have a component environment authority to keep check on their emissions and handling of (potentially toxic) ash. There are things you don’t want to incinerate, that may have to be treated and interred. There is a huge moist organic content in the Bajan waste profile you’ll have to do something else with – – are you ready for massive composting? good & feasible in theory but has been very, very troublesome and usually uneconomical to implement in LAC. What I’m trying to say is that you’re probably going to need at least a well-managed, state-of-the-art mini-fill even with an incinerator and composting (maybe if you seriously adopted a zero-waste strategy you might stand a chance, but I don’t see that in the cards for Barbados in the near-term) . So where to put it? Any ideas? Did the authorities ever look seriously at alternative sites?


  13. Rumplestilskin

    Despite arguments to the contrary, Barbados courts have an excellent record of applying the law.

    This includes very few reversals traditionally at Privy Council appeal etc.

    Go check if you doubt.

    Yes, attorneys here have developed a mastery at the delay of matters and this is one issue that new legislation and the courts do need to follow up on.

    However, if the legislation is in place it will be possible to file succesfully.

    However, from what you are saying the problem is that there is indeed NO LEGISLATION in place that applies.

    That is my point. Instead of addressing the real mechanistic problem in dealing with issues, people make up all sorts of innuendo and charges.

    The only other recourse if there is no legislation, case law or international convention is now moral suasion and public pressure.

    I have no idea what alternative sites Government assessed.

    But that is part of the underlying causation here, the complete lack of explanation, transparency, accountability.

    Which itself then fuels the innuendo and charges, instead of laying the problem squarely where it belongs i.e. the relevant Minister and ultimately Cabinet.

  14. Rumplestilskin, I personally am not questioning the Barbadian court’s track record in applying the law and constitutional guarantees — I don’t have the research to judge either way.

    I was saying that in a situation like I understand this one to be, international law will not be the help you suggested in your earlier comments. Wish I could suggest otherwise, but experience in waste law and policy in this hemisphere does not support it.

    From what I know of local Bajan environment and sanitary law, such as it is, that probably will not help much either. The one area I am not certain of — perhaps someone else who reads BFP can say — is land use and zoning law. If the siting of Greenland violated such rules and procedures, you might get a court to act, at least in placing a stay on further work.

    In re-reading Prof. Machel’s 17 Jan. entry (link noted above), I see that he recommends both a court action based on the Scotland District Assoc. case (based on premise putting the fill in or abutting Scotland National Park violates current law) and pressuring IDB. He also mentions where he thinks the best site would be: St. Lucy’s.

    Barbados does indeed seem to have a transparency in governance problem. This is hardly unique to Barbados, or even to LAC. But most governments, slowly but surely, are waking up to the fact that keeping the public affected by such works “out of the loop” eventually can boomerang. “Ignorance is bliss” is not good public policy.


  15. I have found out that the IDB was/is not the sole funding source for this project: the Caribbean Development Bank also provided several million. How responsive are they to scrutiny and public outcry?

    I have been trying to find out if all the IDB funds were actually disbursed, since this project was originally approved in the 1990s. If so, it is unlikely that the IDB will respond to pressures and even if they did, have any leverage over the government….

  16. Anybody here know why the original court challenge to the landfill was based on the The Town and Country Planning Act (cap. 240) instead of the The Soil Conservation (Scotland District) Act (cap. 396) restricting uses of the soil in the District in which the landfill has been created?

    Also, are you aware that in the “Barbados National Action Programme to Combat Desertification and Land Degradation, and to Mitigate Against the Effects of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought” submitted to the United Nations in 2002, the Government declared its primary land degradation concern was Scotland District, because:
    “Over the majority of the island the coral limestone cap remains in tact, however over the Scotland District the limestone cap has been eroded away exposing the more unstable rocks and soils. The steep, highly folded and faulted slopes are comprised mainly of sandstones, shales and clays, with some occurances of volcanic ash and Joes River muds, oil deposits and saline soils. The effects of the trade winds and the seasonal
    nature of the rainfall in the region combine to make the area highly unstable and
    susceptible to erosion and large scale land slippage.

    Hardly where I would place a landfill, no matter how good the containment liner and leachate collection system….

  17. Pingback: The Temas Blog » Anatomy of a Landfill Controversy

  18. Rumplestilskin

    ‘Volcanic ash and oil deposits’

    Interesting. Where did the ash come from? nearby? Or is a great big volcano underneath us (I am not a geologist obviously).

    Oil deposits. Is this indicative of anything on our East Coast?

    Whatever it is, we’ll find out, sooner or later.

  19. As you might have guessed from the trackback ping above, I finally got around to fulfilling my promise to bring the Greenland saga to a different audience at The Temas Blog. Not sure it’ll help bring the international attention needed, but one never knows… judging from the silence here, I guess no one actually read it, or perhaps more accurately put, no one liked it. 😦 Well, BFP had already done a very good job of covering the details in its usual spirited fashion, so really all I could do is try to summarize a bit and give BFP alot of plugs! 🙂

  20. Peltdown Man

    In the early stages of the Greenland saga, The Scotland District Association (SDA) took the case to the IDB armed with a full set of facts about the usuitability of the dump site. They received a polite but unbending reception. Don’t forget that these people are paid to make these loans, and in many cases, they are consultants who would get no more juicy projects if they kick against the traces. The disaster that Greenland will become is now inevitable, I’m afraid. What is doubly disturbing is that the landfill will be available long before the transfer station is built. This means that, almost certainly, raw garbage will be dumped in the landfill, instead of sorted and compacted garbage, which is likely to be much less hazardous.
    The moonscape that was once a really beautiful and peaceful valley can now be seen clearly from Turner’s Hall (even better from Minister Lynch’s balcony) to Cherry Tree Hill. The governement talks about Barbados becoming a developed country. News! Developed countries just don’t do this kind of thing – their citizens would never let them get away with it. But give us a few calypso/reggae concerts and a cricket extravaganza, then who the hell cares about the future of the country?