Published On: Thu, May 17th, 2018

Drastic measures at the landfill

2018-05-13_Dump Fire-002

PHILIPSBURG – Drastic measures at the landfill: the contract with the current management company, Robelto and Sons will be “amicably terminated,” the appointment of a waste project manager is  imminent and the government will beef up security.

Miklos Gitterson - Minister of VROMIMinister Miklos Giterson (Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure) made these announcements at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.

“I assure the people that permanent and viable solutions are underway in dealing with this recurring health hazard,” Giterson said after he had made a reference to the fire that ignited on the dump early Sunday morning.

“Right now we are busy with the department of maintenance and St. Maarten Recycling NV to restructure the daily operations and management of the landfill,” the minister continued. “We will start to segregate and control all garbage coming into the dump. We will amicably terminate the contract with the present landfill management company, taking heed of what was noted in the SOAB-report.”

This report revealed that the terms of reference for the landfill management contract are seriously flawed. The Robelto-bid for the job was also far too low to enable the contractor to do his job properly.

One of the issues is the fixed amount of fill the contractor had to provide every week to cover the garbage. There is however no relation between the amount of fill and the amount of garbage that enters the dump. There is not enough fill to cover the garbage and recurring fires are the result of this.

Minister Giterson has now grabbed the bull by the horns and announced measures. Apart from terminating the Robelto-contract, the minister wants to close the dump and make it accessible only to registered haulers. He also wants to beef up security.

The minister said that the security that was present at the dump last year – when former Prime Minister William Marlin cited this as the reason why there were no more fires – is not there anymore. “I know it is not enough right now,” Giterson said. “That’s why we have more fires and that is why we will now place extra security at the dump.”

The government imported fill from St. Barths recently. This will be used to cover garbage.

Giterson also addressed related garbage issues. The hauler who had the contract for the Cul-de-Sac area that includes for instance St. Peters, St. Johns and Ebenezer Estate “was not complying with the contract. Therefore, a new hauler was brought in today.”

The minister did not say it, but the hauler who did not comply with that contract happens to be the same company that will be kicked out of its landfill management contract: Robelto and Sons.

Minister Giterson met last week with the project director-general for the reconstruction of the Windward Island, Hans Leijtens, to discuss the dump-issues. “We concluded that the very next step towards an ideal solution for our dump is the appointment of a waste project manager.”

Leijtens will discuss this with the Minister of Infrastructure and Water in the Netherlands, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, in the coming weeks. In two weeks time, he will return to St. Maarten to discuss the outcome of this meeting with Minister Giterson and all related parties.

Leijtens set the deadline for the appointment of a waste project manager at October 2018, but Minister Giterson said that a decision is needed sooner.

Lastly, Giterson made a reference to the cleanup campaign on the French side, whereby the Collectivité has opened its eco-site in French Cul-de-Sac to all haulers to deposit garbage and debris for free. “I urge those who have been dumping French garbage on our landfill to please dump it now at the French landfill.”

dump accident scene