|A view of the Sanitary Landfill Extension Cell 4. (A. Miller/BGIS)|
The Mangrove Pond Landfill as most Barbadians know is about to be transformed, with the once pervasive odour now becoming a thing of the past.
Referred to by many as "Mount Stinkeroo", residents endured the odour emanating from the landfill for years, as piles upon piles of garbage were heaped there daily. Now, the St. Thomas-based landfill is about to get a major makeover.
It is a development that will change the way garbage is handled in Barbados, and over time even reduce and remove the need for landfilling in the country. It will also reduce the lines, cracks and crevices created by the garbage replacing them with a smooth green finish, transforming it into something beautiful.
This major makeover will all come together as part of the $377 million Mangrove Pond Green Energy Complex. This complex, which will be established at Vaucluse, St. Thomas, will include a Solar Power Facility; a Wind Energy Facility; the Mangrove Pond Beautification Programme; construction of a new Mechanical Maintenance Facility; a Waste-to-Energy Facility, and the Landfill Gas Management System.
Noting that Barbados had a "gluttonous appetite" for energy, Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, has stated that a modernised system of waste management would allow for the removal of waste from households and have it converted into energy.
Central to a number of the new proposed facilities that will make this all a reality is the newly commissioned Sanitary Landfill Extension Cell 4, which was officially opened by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Dr. Lowe on July 8 and started operations on July 9.
"…You are witnessing the beginning of the transition from traditional landfilling to a modernised, technologically designed, sustainable waste management system," Dr. Lowe said.
The new cell designed by consultants R.J. Burnside International, and constructed by C.O. Williams Limited, is operated by staff at the Mangrove Pond Landfill who were exposed to training with respect to the technical requirements.
The side walls of the cell have a rock fall protection mesh as a safety feature to protect staff operating on the site. In addition, there is also a clay liner of a specified thickness on the side walls to retain or contain any liquid generated within the cell, which was originally a quarry.
Assistant Manager of Engineering at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA), Shawn Phillips, explained that granite stone imported from Canada was used to produce the liner system for the cell, because the leachate (waste water) would dissolve Barbados’ existing carbonate stone.
During a detailed explanation of the function of the new cell, Mr. Phillips noted: "Cell 4 would provide the facility with the capacity for the disposal of waste from a number of other projects that are to be executed."
These projects will include a new five-storey administration building and maintenance facility to house the operations of the SSA from its current Wildey, St. Michael location, to Vaucluse, St. Thomas, and to relocate its maintenance component.
"We are now in the process of evaluating those tenders that have been submitted to the SSA," he said.
However, one of the hallmarks of the site will be the Waste-to-Energy Plant from which Cell 4 will receive its waste. Mr. Phillips explained that the Waste-to-Energy Plant would provide thermal treatment to solid waste that goes to the transfer station. The residue would be transported to Cell 4.
The site will also feature a Leachate Treatment Plant which will treat 400 cubic metres of waste water daily from within Cell 4. "That is being undertaken under a public/private sector partnership of which we are in the process of procuring as well," Mr. Phillips explained.
He added that waste would continuously be placed on the site and leachate pumped from the bottom. "There is a stage to the west of the cell which would facilitate the removal of submersible pumps, and that leachate will be conveyed to the Leachate Club House of the South West corner of the Mangrove Pond Footprint. Eventually, the leachate would traverse all the way around to the Leachate Treatment Plant," Mr. Phillips said.
However, precautions are being taken to ensure that leachate does not enter the ground water system in the area. This was done through a double liner system installed in Cell 4 to facilitate the containment, or to prevent the migration of pollutants out of the cell, and to mitigate any adverse effects on the environment.
"The double liner system is there to protect the ground water within the environs of the site," Mr. Phillips outlined.
He further explained that on top of the liner system was a leachate collection facility which comprised a series of pipes used to convey the waste water to a pump house onto the proposed Leachate Treatment Plant.
He added that Cell 4 will also be the final destination for condensing from the Landfill Gas-to-Energy Plant. This facility will use gases produced within the landfill, and is expected to produce about 2.7 megawatts hours of energy.
However, in its initial stages, Cell 4 will continue to receive household waste, resulting in some biological activity taking place within the cell.
Mr. Phillips gave the assurance that several different methods will be used by landfill staff to reduce the smell coming from the landfill. "One of them is the chemical application of a spray to minimise the odour. Consideration will also be given to the placement of mulch when necessary as the mulch contains some bacteria which can actually assist with the reduction in the odour that is emanating from within the waste," he explained.
This will result in a gradual weeding out of the source of aggravation to residents which they suffered over the years.
And, with the decommissioning of cells 1, 2, 3A and 3B, there are already plans to outfit them with a green cover where the farms for the solar panels would be planted. "Eventually Cell 4 would be capped as well," Mr. Phillips said.
In the words of the Prime Minister: "The commissioning of this Cell 4 is but another chapter in our continued efforts to realise a cleaner, greener Barbados."