One day after a senior Government official cast doubt on the future of the Cahill Energy waste to energy project, a former diplomat said the “hideously expensive” venture should be scrapped altogether.
The Government official, who spoke to Barbados TODAY last evening on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said the future of the controversial plant was hanging in the air.
In fact, he revealed at the time that if there were to be a plasma gasification plant in Barbados, Cahill Energy would not be involved.
“If there is a plasma gasification plant it will not be with Cahill . . . I don’t know if that project is going ahead and certainly not with her [Cahill Chief Executive Officer Clare Cowan],” the official said, while complaining that the investor had become the subject of controversy.
The official however maintained that the door remained open for a waste-to-energy project, since key Government officials were firmly of the view that this was the “cleanest” energy around.
But Peter Laurie, who has launched a community recycling programme, today objected to the proposed gasification plant, arguing that it was an expensive waste management method that the country could ill afford.
“From what I have read about it, it is going to be hideously expensive and I don’t think that all the environmental aspects of it have been thought through very carefully. So I am a little worried that we are going with a high tech solution when we have other solutions available,” Laurie said of the highly criticized project.
The waste-to-energy scheme faced stiff resistance from Barbadians since Opposition Leader Mia Mottley laid bare in Parliament last March the perceived sordid details of the waste project, with concerns being raised about its cost and possible environmental impact.
A now closed Facebook group of persons opposed to the project attracted 8,605 members from a wide cross-section of the society, including environmentalists, journalists, students and lawyers.
The project, which was carded to be constructed in Vaucluse, St Thomas, was placed in the spotlight again yesterday after it emerged that the Pennsylvania, USA-headquartered international corporation Air Products was quitting the waste-to-energy sector and off-loading its two trouble hit 50 megawatt plasma gasification plants in Teesside, North East England.
In a brief interview with Barbados TODAY from Toronto, Canada last night, Cowan refused to confirm reports that the planned $700 million plasma gasification plant here had been cancelled.
Still, news of its possible demise was met with relief by some of its opponents in Barbados.
“Woo hoo,” exclaimed one person who uses the Facebook moniker Santini Moore in reaction to the Barbados TODAY story. “Lets face it folks the Cahill death plant deal stank of corrupt and arrogant Government practices. We should all be grateful it died an early death. Now heads should roll for those Government Ministers involved in associating our country with this debacle.”
“Good riddance,” added poster Kenrick Purcell, while another poster, Arthur Collymore wrote: “While our hearts rejoice, there are some among us who cringe at the thought that Cahill may not now become the vehicle that drives their enormous bank balances further up the hill.”
While the future of waste-to-energy remains in the air, Laurie today proposed recycling as a significantly less expensive means of waste management.
About six weeks ago, the retired Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and two of his neighbours implemented a recycling system in their community, providing four drums – one each for plastic, papers, metal and glass.
He said each drum along with the cover cost only $5 and since the system was implemented he has been able to reduce his garbage to the landfill by about 90 per cent.
“It is a huge success for us in terms of our garbage footprint,” Laurie told Barbados TODAY.
“It is doable and I think the more we do this across Barbados and reduce the amount going to the dump the less we will need looking at expensive and technologically perhaps dangerous solutions for garbage disposals. It is very doable and for the organic waste I have a compost heap so that goes there.”
The former diplomat acknowledged that recycling was just one of many solutions to Barbados’ multi-million dollar garbage disposal problem.
He also said that it would require a lot of education and effort to get Barbadians used to the practice of separating their garbage.
“Because in a household the easiest thing is that there is a garbage [bin] under the sink and you go and put all your waste under the sink. So it will take some rethinking of attitude to get people accustomed to sorting, but once you get it, it is the easiest thing in the world,” he said.