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New $12 million landfill to generate renewable energy in Turks & Caicos

The unsightly area of garbage in Blue Hills, Providenciales known as the ‘Blue Hills Dump’, is poised to become the TCI’s first renewable energy source to produce much-needed electricity for businesses and households on that island, thanks to Sanitas Partners, the company awarded the contract to develop a nationwide solid waste management system.
Tim and Jim Hodge – the father son combination and the main proponents of the development – said they expect to begin construction of the $12 million landfill in the bottom half of this year, as soon as the remaining legislative formalities are completed. They noted that the three phases that the project would undergo before its completion should take approximately 18 months.
According to Tim Hodge, within two years of operation, the project is expected to generate enough methane gas which could be sold to the local power provider – Provo Power Company (PPC) –  as alternative energy to operate its power supply generators.
“The landfill is actually bio-reactive, so as the waste goes in we manage all the liquid and everything else that passes through the trash, we pull them back out and recycle it, put it back in the trash, cook it and make it produce methane.
“Within two to four years of us starting to produce methane, we would pull the methane out and start making electricity. Over that time it could produce one megawatt of energy – one megawatt is three thousand volts. So it would be the first renewal energy source in the Turks and Caicos. ” the younger Hodge said.
He told The SUN that the advancement of the project was dependent on the passage of a bill now before Advisory Council that would give the authorities enough teeth to, among other things, fine litter bugs, who indiscriminately deposit their wastes in undesignated areas. He said the draft legislations have been put together and were awaiting possible amendments and final approval. 
Sanitas Partners, according Tim Hodge, was awarded the contract in March of 2008, but was stalled by a raft of circumstances such as Hurricane Ike, Tropical Storm Hanna, global financial crisis and the local political climate. He noted that recently the company assembled its financial plan and presented it to Government. A position paper of the project was presented to the Consultative Forum, which endorsed it.
The first phase, according to the Hodges, is the cleaning of the dumps in Provo and Grand Turk. The second phase is to build a modern US EPA-approved landfill in Blue Hills, while the final phase is to construct a system of transfer stations on all the habited islands after closing the landfills.
The Sanitas Partners principals noted that the landfill will be constructed with the environment in mind, and so it would be designed to protect the water table as well as the marine ecosystem with leak-proof liners, gas and leachate collection system. They noted too, that there would be advanced monitoring systems coupled with daily sanitary cover to odour and protect public health.
According to Tim Hodge, ultimately the dumps on all the other islands will be cleaned up to make way for the transportation system. He said the waste would be transferred from the other islands by boat to Providenciales, where the waste would be picked up and taken to the landfill in Blue Hills.
“The wastes are transferred into a container, sealed in a bag and then shipped to the central location,” he said, noting that a modern fleet of equipment would be shipped into the country to manage the project.
He said the project has the capacity to employ approximately 30 people when all the mechanisms are in place. The younger Hodge noted that the expertise would be imported from the states, while banking on local experience as well.
For his part, Jim Hodge said having been in the Turks and Caicos for approximately forty years and has seen the effects of improper solid waste management, decided to come up with a solution and as such went to Government with a proposal.
“Because the (solid waste management) system is so small, we ought to be the best system in the Caribbean, not the worst. And so, one, we believe that it is a reasonable business opportunity, and more so, it is part of us being here for as long as we are, this shouldn’t be like this. We went to the dump in Blue Hills, it is a disaster.
It can be fixed, and in this world of sustainability, it is really important that you have a landfill that is a bioreactor that produces some electricity. So, what we are trying to do is to build some real world sensitivity into this.
Even with the initial programme, we are going to a an awful lot of outreach with business groups, churches, schools, first to try to give people a sense of that they shouldn’t throw things at the side of the road. The second sense is recycling and diversion – because at the landfill we are going to do an incredibly lot of diversion,” Jim Hodge explained.
He noted that since Sanitas Partners has adapted US regulations in the operation of the project, it is the requirement to have an operating area on site to facilitate daily collection, which he said would be compacted with bulldozer at the end of the day and covered with six inches of soil, so at the end of the day there is no garbage being exposed.
Arnold Gardiner, according the Sanitas Partners, will be the subcontractor for parts of the project, saying also that as the project travels along, more and more local involvement would be added.

Category/ies:Regional News.
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